A parliamentary body on Wednesday expressed serious concern over steep increase in the wheat flour prices and asked the relevant authorities to take appropriate measures in this regard. The issue of wheat inflation was taken up by the Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research (NFS&R) in which the committee was annoyed at the gross increase in wheat flour prices particularly in the last few months that badly hit the common man. The lawmakers also directed NFS&R ministry authorities to place a uniform policy in the country regarding pricing of such agricultural commodities. “The ministry should ensure the uniform minimum prices for wheat,” the committee directed, adding that some adequate measures also needed to introduce a comprehensive legislation in order to facilitate the decision for a uniform minimum support price for wheat. “In order to determine the minimum support price for wheat, the government should constitute the wheat board with representation of the relevant parliamentary committees as well,” the committee suggested. The senators further suggested that as the sowing season for wheat is going to begin in the mid of October so determination of uniform minimum support price should be placed in the market before start of this activity. It maintained that a forum to discuss the matter and enter an amicable resolution of all disputes is created. The lawmakers also express apprehension that one of the major reasons for the shortage of wheat in the market is smuggling, especially that goes to neighboring country Afghanistan. However, due to the absence of relevant officials of the Ministry of Interior the matter regarding wheat smuggling deferred until the next meeting. The issued directives to get a comprehensive briefing from the interior ministry in its next meeting. Moreover, the issue of cotton crop’s damage due to flood hits areas of Sindh and Balochistan also came under discussion of the lawmakers. The committee suggested that some stern decisions required giving compensation somehow to the farmers of these areas respectively. While discussing Cotton CESS fee, the Committee was of the view that this has been the main reason for losses and that research in the field is wanting. This, it said, was an important issue and all our efforts must be made to determine the CESS fee. Regarding loans to facilitate farmers the Committee recommended that all interest on loans given by ZTBL may be waived. Increase in loan facility was recommended for Private Commercial Banks. The Committee recommended that the State Bank of Pakistan should be taken on board in this matter. Despite some resistance by opposition members, the committee passed the Pakistan Tobacco Board (Amendment) Bill, 2022. While opposing the bill, Senator Sania Nishtar contended that the powers to constitute the Board and routine matters must be vested in the federal government instead of others. This amendment, she added, waters down the federal government’s authority. The meeting was chaired by Senator Syed Muzafar Hussain Shah and also attended by Senator Seemi Ezdi, Senator Sania Nishtar, Senator Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar, Senator Dr. Asif Kirmani and other relevant officials.