Bilawal Bhutto warns Pakistan approaching another flour crisis, slams govt over wheat prices

Islamabad, Pakistan Published: Apr 29, 2021, 11:21 PM(IST)

File photo: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The PPP chairman also underscored the prices of fertilisers, seeds, pesticides, agricultural machinery and electricity that have gone up by 150 per cent

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has warned that the country is moving towards another flour crisis as there are only less than 20 days of wheat stock left available in the country.

In a statement issued by the PPP Media Office on Wednesday, Bilawal slammed the federal government for fixing the wheat purchase price at INR1,800 per 40 kg, alleging that the government was making a false claim that it had increased the subsidy price up to 400 per cent, Dawn reported.

He claimed that the increase was only 28 per cent as the government had raised the purchase price from INR 1,400 to INR 1,800. He said that his party would not allow the oppression of farmers in Sindh and the relief price would be INR 2,000 per 40kg in the province.

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"Today, for the first time in the history of the country, the support price of wheat is not the same in all the provinces and Imran Khan is responsible for this oppression of the farmers of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan," he alleged.

The PPP chairman also underscored the prices of fertilisers, seeds, pesticides, agricultural machinery and electricity that have gone up by 150 per cent

Reminding the people that the federal government had already created two wheat crises in three years, he said that it was due to the poor planning of Prime Minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government that today only two to two-and-a-half weeks of wheat stock was available in the country.

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"If the crisis is not dealt with, the country may once again face a shortage of flour," he said.

According to Dawn, Bilawal lamented that Pakistan, which was known as a wheat-producing country, is now importing wheat, adding that the ruler of Pakistan (Imran Khan) was unfortunately not even familiar with "alphabets of the word agriculture".

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, PPP's parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman expressed concern over the government's plan to split Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) into two companies, Dawn reported.

"The Tabahi Sarkar (destructive government) has literally crashed PIA by compromising several Pakistani pilots with clean licences, got the airline grounded in EU capitals after the 'Licencegate', sold PIA assets abroad via crony shell firms and are now cannibalising 'old PIA' to create new business ventures. This is a new low," she said.

Around 2,000 PIA employees had been forced to take voluntary redundancy and now the plan was to lay off half of its 14,000 employees, the Senator added.

"Why did the government recently mislead the people by claiming PIA losses have been brought down? If this was the case then what losses are they talking about now? The national flag carrier posted a net loss of US $226 million (INR 34.6 billion) in 2020, its loan has caused an overall loss of INR460 billion, the iconic Roosevelt Hotel in New York has been sold and our profitable international routes were given to competitors," she said.

Rehman blamed the government's incompetence over PIA's losses and said that PIA flights had been banned in Europe and the US because of the Pakistan aviation minister's "callous statement".

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