LAHORE

The wheat export target of 1.2 million ton may not be achieved despite four extensions in export period since March 2015 as Punjab could manage to export wheat around 200,000 ton while Sindh succeeded to export only 70,000 ton wheat, as export policy is being widely misused.

The government has allowed one-month extension to the time period given for export of wheat and wheat flour for Sindh and Punjab for the fourth time despite opposition from Punjab government. Market sources said that Punjab Food Director had sent a summary to the central government, asking it to stop further extension in time period for wheat export because its wheat is not being lifted and diverted to again local market. He stated that more than 70 per cent wheat meant for export is diverted to local market. So, there is no use of extension for wheat export policy, he added.

They said that wheat export policy is being widely misused by big exporters, as wheat is purchased from food department and is sold in the local market and rebate is collected on fake documents.

Due to surplus wheat Punjab was given target of exporting 0.8 million tons of wheat while Sindh was to export 0.4 million tons and both federal as well as provincial governments announced rebate to attract exporters. First announcement of export was made in March 2015 and period of export expanded three times but export target was not achieved.

And once again the central government has granted one-month more extension to the time period given for export of wheat and wheat flour.

ECC of the Cabinet in its meeting held on March 23, 2015 decided to allow export of 0.8 million tons of wheat from Punjab with the transport rebate of $55 per metric ton and 0.4 million tons from Sindh with the transport rebate of $45 per M/ton. Governments of Punjab and Sindh were also facilitated with the additional rebate of Rs 3,500 and Rs 4,500 per ton.

Flour industry representatives said that government should float tender through TCP for international bidding for export to avoid the misuse of policy. Though the local price is higher as compared to international market but Pakistan wheat is of high quality and there is adequate demand of our wheat in global market.

“Govt should call global wheat exporters for export bidding and negotiate with them to get maximum benefit as further delay will damage our stock which might mount to at least 3 million ton. Besides 2.2 million tons stock kept by Pakistan Agricultural Storage & Services Corporation Limited (PASSCO) and no attention was given to this huge storage of wheat which will create problem for next year crop, observed Dr Bilal Sufi, the PFMA former chairman.

The chairman of Standing Committee on Wheat and Flour FPCCI said Pakistan could add several hundred thousands of tons of extra supply in world markets, helping to compensate for the exit of Russia from the export sector.

The country could succeed to export around 0.5-0.6 million tons of wheat to Afghanistan annually when the rate was at Rs1200 per ton locally. And now despite announcement of $90 rebate on each ton export target is not being achieved mainly due to high price of commodity.

He appreciated the government as well as Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for removing GST on bran on request of Pakistan Flour Millers Forum. “Now the ECC has approved the exemption of flour mills from GST on bran which if not done could have resulted in increase in atta rates by at least Rs40 per 20 kg,” he added.