ISLAMABAD (March 27 2009): Conflicts between Port Singapore Authority and stevedores, besides increasing demurrage, left the government with no option but to divert shipments, carrying imported wheat and urea from Gwadar to Karachi port, reliable sources told Business Recorder here on Thursday.

They said that Pakistan had imported 2.287 million tonnes of wheat while orders worth 2.589 million tonnes had been placed for import of the commodity. According to the sources, the government has provided subsidy worth Rs 20 billion on the imported wheat so far to benefit growers. By the end of June, an additional subsidy of Rs 10 billion would be provided.

“If need arose the government is ready to spend even Rs 40 billion as subsidy on the import of wheat in 2009-10”, the sources disclosed. The total consumption of wheat in the country is nearly 25 million tonnes. “In international market, the price of wheat is decreasing by each passing day. Wheat price in the global market has gone down by 40 percent as compared to the corresponding period last year,” said the sources.

The government has fixed the wheat support price at Rs 950 per 40 kilograms and the commodity would be provided at the same price to the flourmills across the country. Hence a 40-kilogram flour bag would be sold at Rs 1,000 in the domestic market, the sources said. “If the country achieves the wheat production target of 25 million tonnes set for 2008-09, then there will be no need to import the commodity during next fiscal,” the sources added.

“The intensifying conflict between the Singapore Port Authority and the stevedores is causing delays in the supply of imported urea and wheat to the provinces whereas demurrage charges are also increasing. So the government directed ship, carrying imported commodities, to reach Karachi instead of Gwadar Port,” the sources disclosed.

Source: Business Recorder