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PM Shehbaz gives nod to suspending four officials over wheat scandal

Sources say they have charged with poor planning, negligence
A farmer harvests wheat crops in a field in Peshawar on May 2, 2020. AFP
A farmer harvests wheat crops in a field in Peshawar on May 2, 2020. AFP

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif gave the nod to the recommendations of the inquiry committee – formed to investigate the wheat import scandal – to suspend four officials of the food security ministry on Tuesday, sources said.

The officials were found responsible for the additional wheat imports and “charged with” poor planning and negligence.

PM Shehbaz also approved taking action against the former federal secretary of the national food security minister Muhammad Asif.

Earlier this month, the premier ordered the suspension of the Pakistan Agricultural Storage & Services Corporation’s (PASSCO) managing director and general manager procurement for not following the instructions regarding the use of technology in the wheat procurement process and for being negligent in this regard.

At a meeting regarding wheat stocks in Lahore on May 13, the premier directed officials to conduct a third-party audit of PASSCO’s stock.

Last month, farmers across Punjab started protesting against what they call the government’s “plagued” wheat procurement policy.

Punjab contributes more than 75% of the total wheat harvest, according to media reports and this year the market crashed and growers are forced to sell the staple food crop much below the support price set by the government.

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They claim that the government procured wheat despite having surplus production in the country.

Kissan Ittehad Chairman Khalid Hussain Bath has warned that the farmers won’t grow wheat next year if the government does not buy the crop from them and provide any relief.

“The government will never be able to bear the loss,” he said in an interview with Dus with Imran Khan which was aired on Aaj News on May 5.

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Shehbaz Sharif

Wheat

Prime Minister

wheat procurement