Pakistan. ECC cancels wheat import tenders as world prices soar

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has decided to cancel the seventh and eighth wheat import tender due to high prices as wheat soared to 9 year high in the international market.

The meeting presided over by Economic Affairs Minister Omar Ayub deferred the decision about increasing profit margins of oil marketing companies and petroleum dealers amid a strike called by the dealers this week against low margins.

Petroleum dealers have warned that they would begin a nationwide shutdown from Thursday, November 25.

The ECC approved the summary for scrapping tariffs on various items imported from Afghanistan in a goodwill gesture.

It also recommended the allocation of Rs6 billion to initiate the process for improvement and rehabilitation programme of Balkassar-Mianwali (N-130) and Mianwali-Muzaffargarh (N-135) roads.

The meeting also approved the payment of salaries to the employees of Heavy Electric Complex and directed to complete the privatization of Heavy Electric Complex by mid-January next year.

World wheat crisis

The ECC also directed the food security ministry to re-assess the need and requirements of Afghanistan for wheat.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday decided to allow India to send wheat to Afghanistan through Pakistani territory.

Soaring wheat prices have caused concerns in the international market after ill-timed rains in Australia and rising Russian wheat prices limited supply this year.

The US wheat soared 9 years high on Monday. World wheat prices have seen an uptick since November 16.

The UK’s Daily Mail has reported that bread prices in the country could increase by 20% next week.

However, Pakistan is likely to escape the negative effect of the world price hike as the country’s wheat production is expected to increase by 8% this year, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network.

The government, however, will have to curb wheat smuggling.

Punjab Food Department this week rejected reports of wheat shortage in the province.

Petrol pumps to shutdown from Thursday

Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association (PPDA) on Monday announced a nationwide strike for an “unspecified period.”

The association’s spokesperson said that petrol pumps across the country will remain closed from Thursday.

“We have no other option but to go on strike as the government has failed to meet the November 17 deadline to address our demands,” the spokesperson said.

Earlier, the association had called for a strike on November 5, too, but withdrew the call after the government agreed to increase the margin by 6 percent on the sale of petroleum products within a few days

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