ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders (ICST) on Sunday said the government should consider a gradual withdrawal from the wheat market which would reduce prices and help save billions of rupees wasted annually on unnecessary procurement and storage.
"The intervention of federal and provincial governments in the wheat market has resulted in overproduction of wheat on the cost of other crops while masses are forced to consume the most expensive wheat flour in the world which is unjustified," it said.
"Despite overproduction of the staple, the majority of the people are facing food security issue because of the price of wheat which is almost double than the international market," said Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders Patron Shahid Rasheed Butt.
"The federal and provincial governments spend hundreds of billions of rupees annually on the process of purchase and storage which is marred with inefficiency, mismanagement and corruption," he said.
Moreover, he said, surplus production continued to rot in the storage facilities as wheat was impossible to export because of the price factor.
"The province of Punjab will save Rs 26 billion annually if it withdraws from the wheat market while it will save another Rs 150 billion by selling surplus stock, while profit can be used for the good of rural communities," he said.
"Such a move will divert the attention of a good number of farmers to the other crops which are being ignored. The private sector should be entrusted to tackle wheat market and government can always take action if businessmen try to create an artificial shortage to make undue profits," he said.
"The government can always use Trading Corporation of Pakistan to immediately import wheat and distribute it across the country on subsidised rates," he said.
He said that 60 percent duty had been imposed on import of wheat which should be reduced by 20 percent.