Ban on export of wheat, flour imposed

The federal government has imposed a ban on export of wheat and wheat flour with immediate effect to control its price in domestic market. On September 11, 2019, Commerce Division issued amendment under the heading (wheat and wheat flour) of Export Policy Order, 2016 to formally impose a ban on export of wheat and wheat flour. Earlier, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research also issued a notification and circulated it among all stakeholders.

On July 17, 2019, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet headed by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Economic Affairs and Revenue, Dr Hafeez Shaikh accorded approval to ban wheat and flour, after it was observed that data provided on the availability of wheat stock does not appear realistic as the data showed that there is no shortage of wheat in the country and sufficient wheat is available.

On July 25, 3019, federal cabinet ratified by the federal cabinet in its meeting on July 25, 2019 and directed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to coordinate with the provincial governments to ensure that sufficient quantities of wheat are released to flour mills in order to ensure that there is no shortage of wheat flour in the market.

Cabinet also took cognizance of undue increase in the price of Atta/Roti on the pretext of shortage of wheat stocks and desired that National Food Security and Research Division, in collaboration of Provincial Agriculture Departments, must conduct extensive field research/survey to ascertain the factual position on the ground, both in urban/rural areas and submit its report to the cabinet with 15 days.

Wheat stocks as reported by Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) and provincial food departments were at the level of 7.418 million tons as on August 29, 2019 as compared to 10.776 million tons of corresponding period of last year.

International wheat prices as reported by the International Grains Council on August 28, 2019 were at the level of $ 203 million per ton for Hard Red Winter Wheat and $ 208 per ton for US No.2 Soft Red Winter. Pakistan Bureau of Statistics on August 22, 2019 reported that local prices of wheat were Rs 361.9/10kg and wheat flour at Rs 425.6/10 kg.

Department of Plant Protection (Ministry of National Food Security and Research) has reported that from the period August 1, 2018 to August 25, 2019, around 17655 tons of wheat products were exported through sea and land route.

There is also an impression that the provincial governments have failed to control wheat and wheat flour prices as speculators are extremely influential and are selling flour at higher prices. Provincial Food Departments do not have powers to shut down flour mills for violating prescribed rules.