Wheat export is being considered as the major reason behind the wheat & flour price crises; it is important to consider that the ban on wheat export was imposed in July while the export continued till October end. None of concerned ministry has explained the matter. ECC (Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet) noted the expected shortage of wheat and flour in the market last year in June. However it didn’t halt export of wheat, flour and other processes product e.g. maida and suji.
Ministry of food security and the ministry of commerce issued a number of notifications for banning the export of the above mentioned products during end of July till first week of November. However the data compiled by PBS (Pakistan Bureau of Statistics) reports the export of those. ECC took the final decision for imposing ban on wheat and flour export on 17th July 2019 while the prices were increasing persistently. Notification could be issued on July 30 as the due procedure was to be fulfilled. After one week the ministry of food scrutiny calcified that the list of banned products for export does not include fine atta, maida and suji. This exclusion made the export of these products smooth.
The export of 5,928.6 tonnes maida was made between August to October 2019
Exports statistics reported by PBS include quantity of wheat exported to be 2,060 tonnes in September and 1,887 tonnes in October 2019. No wheat export is recorded in August. In June and July quantity of wheat exported is 89,237 tonnes. However the data for export of wheat flour could not be separated by PBS.
Reporters have seen the official documents suggesting quantity of wheat flour exported as 53,393 tonnes in July, In August 1,179 tonnes, In September 1,036 tonnes and In October 2019 23,991 tonnes. An official source of customs department has revealed to reporters that FBR has not provided any data about the “specific firms” involved in export of wheat in response to the query raised by the commerce division on the same issue. However the data may have been provided by the PM secretariat.
Indonesia, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are said to be the major destinations of wheat exports between July to October 2019. Food Scrutiny ministry has allowed to export fine “Aatta” since 7th August 2019. It is used in producing tandori products & making of naan (roti). Export of maida and suji is also allowed. Maida is used for baking and making chapatti while suji is used in making sweets and halwa.
Custom department has also not shared data relating to export of fine Aatta, suji an maida as well. On the other hand, PBS data does not bifurcate the exports data in to separate products. DPP (Department of plant protection) has provided data about the export of 5,928.6 tonnes maida between August to October 2019. This was the period export was allowed by Food Scrutiny ministry. Suji export was reduced to 92 tonnes between September and October 2019.
Major responsibilities of DPP include regulation of import and export of agricultural commodities respective of sanitary & phytosanitary measures under national & international regulations.
The data from DPP has shown that for wheat and wheat flour export no certificate was obtained since August 2019. The matter of export of wheat and wheat flour without any certificate is also a mystery.
Finally the ban was imposed on export of fine ata due to the increased price levels on October 26, 2019 and on November 02, 2019 on the export of maida and suji.
The export of wheat and wheat flour without any sort of certificate is also something questionable
A statement issued by the official spokesperson of commerce division saying that 2 different approvals were given by the ECC. Food Security Ministry also notified the same and this was enough for banning the exports.
However the commerce division waited for the law division approval SRO and after that incorporated it in the export policy order. However the statement claimed “But exports were not allowed by customs after notification of the food security ministry”. The spokesperson of commerce ministry said that the November SRO was not for August.
Pakistan has also exported wheat paratha, wheat straw & vermicelli. Between January 2019 & January 2020 quantity of wheat straw exported was 247,366 tonnes, exports of of partaha 1,571 tonnes & export of vermicelli at 4233 tonnes since no ban has been imposed on export of these products.