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Govt will need to import 3m tonnes of wheat, warns trade body

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  • PBF Vice Chairman Ahmad Jawad says looming wheat gap within Pakistan may morph into a full-blown crisis soon.
  • Forum urges provincial food depts to monitor wheat purchase by private sector to avoid hoarding.
  • Says govt could have to import a minimum of 3 million tonnes of grain to stabilise the market.

ISLAMABAD: A trade body on Monday warned of a looming wheat crisis in the country , urging the government to ban wheat exports to stabilise the wheat prices and cater to supply gaps.

“Looming wheat gap within the country currently seems prepared to morph into a full-blown crisis over the approaching months,” said Pakistan Businesses Forum (PBF) Vice President Ahmad Jawad.

PBF urged provincial food departments to monitor wheat purchase by the private sector and curb involvement of middlemen to avoid hoarding. The explanations embodied domestic output inadequacy and billowy international costs within the wake Ukraine issue. The flour costs were probably to rise additional if the govt remained unable to manage imports and take action against hoarders, it added.

The explanations embodied domestic output inadequacy and billowy international costs in the wake of the Ukraine issue. The flour costs were probably to rise additional if the govt remained unable to manage imports and take action against hoarders, it added.

“Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has been educated that this wheat harvest is probably going to hover around 26.2 million tonnes against the target of 28.9 million tonnes.” 

The forum said the government may have to import a minimum of 3 million tonnes of grain to stabilise the market and meet the demand of 30.8 million tonnes, despite a carryover stock of 1 million ton.

PBF said that the imports could surpass estimates, pushed by wheat smuggling into Afghanistan, adding that market players had decried wheat imports in the extended quantity. 

“One, the cereal is briefly provided globally owing to a poor harvest, secondly, Pakistan doesn’t have enough bucks to get costly imports with the nation’s foreign currency reserves plunging to $10.5 billion on the widening trade and accounting deficits.”

“What will wheat shortages and costly imports mean for the shoppers,” the group questioned. The flour millers have already raised their costs in Punjab by Rs11 per weight unit supported the open market wheat value of Rs2,200 per 40kg when the termination of official releases.

Punjab had been providing wheat to the millers at the subsidised value of Rs1,950 per 40kg, which was additional slashed to Rs1,600 for the first 20 days of Ramadan.

“The flour inadequacy within the market and also the high value of the artifact could increase food insecurity within the country, particularly within the additional backward and poorer districts of the country, unless the govt proactively ensures its convenience at subsidised rates.”

Jawad deplored wheat shortages and increasing imports, and asked for immediate measures to deal with factors such as water shortage, poor farm management practices, global climate change, and carbamide inconvenience, which had bogged down the agriculture sector.

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Prior to the budget address, the PSX-100 index rebounds following a continuous fall for 7 straight days.

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The Pakistan Stock Exchange rebounded after a continuous decrease of 7 days and surpassed the threshold of 73,000 points, experiencing a surge of more than 500 points in the benchmark.

The PSX Tuesday experienced a decline of more than 650 points, potentially due to tax measures being considered in the federal budget for the fiscal year 2024-25.

The investors are concerned about the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reducing the interest rate, as well as the unresolved circular debt, which has increased to over Rs5.3 trillion.

The KSE-100 index concluded the day with significant losses, at its lowest point.

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Pakistan experiences substantial expansion in the information technology sector.

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Pakistan experienced significant development in the exports of its IT sector, reaching a total of $2.283 billion, as stated in a recent Economic Survey Report.

The increase in exports emphasized the rising global demand for IT services from Pakistan and the sector’s impact on the national economy.

The survey demonstrated that IT freelancers contributed $35 million in remittances, highlighting their significance in the IT industry.

The study data indicates a significant rise in the number of broadband and telecom customers nationwide, with broadband users reaching 135 million and telecom users growing to 194 million.

Earlier this week, the federal government has suggested a substantial 357 percent rise in the budget for the IT sector for the fiscal year 2024-25.

As to reliable sources, the Ministry of IT has been granted a budget of Rs 27.43 billion in the development budget, out of which Rs 6.28 billion has been allotted for the implementation of 15 new projects.

The government has additionally suggested allotting Rs 21.15 billion for projects that are currently in progress, as well as Rs 3.5 billion for the Digital Economy initiative.

Additional noteworthy allocations consist of Rs 1 billion for fostering innovation in the IT sector, Rs 50 million for the digitalization of the national assembly, and Rs 300 million for the implementation of smart office projects in government ministries.

The government has additionally suggested investing Rs 9.92 billion for the Islamabad Technology Development Park and Rs 6.78 billion for the creation of an IT park in Karachi. The budget additionally comprises a proposition for an allocation of Rs 1 billion for the Cybersecurity Fund for the Digital Pakistan initiative.

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Pakistan will unveil its Rs18 trillion budget today.

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The budget will be presented by Senator Muhammad Aurangzeb, the Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, on the floor of the National Assembly.

The government sources stated that the budget will focus on alleviating the hardships faced by the people, revitalizing the agriculture sector, advancing information technology (IT), and enhancing exports.

The administration asserted that the budget will encompass not only fiscal management and revenue mobilization, but also measures for economic stabilization and growth, reduction in non-development spending, job creation, and people-friendly policies aimed at achieving socioeconomic prosperity for the country.

The preparations for the announcement of the federal budget for fiscal year 2024-25 are progressing actively and in accordance with the specified dates.

The budget is being formulated through extensive collaboration among all the departments and ministries responsible for budget-related activities, encompassing the presentation of the budget before Parliament and the initiation of the Economic Survey.

It is important to note that the budget is being presented while Pakistan is in discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a potential package of up to $8 billion.

Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb presented the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2023-24 on Tuesday. According to the survey, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2.38 percent, surpassing the projected objective of 2 percent.

During the launch event of the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2023-24, Federal Minister for Finance Senator Muhammad Aurangzeb stated that despite difficulties, the country has made substantial advancements in attaining macroeconomic stability. Notably, there has been a remarkable 30 percent increase in revenue collection, a decrease in the current account deficit, a reduction in inflation, and a stable currency.

The finance minister stated that this position demonstrated a significant reversal from a fragile economic state, marked by a 0.2% fall in GDP, a 29% devaluation of the rupee, and a reduction in foreign exchange reserves, which had decreased to a level sufficient to cover only two weeks of imports.

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