Pakistan: Opposition boycotts Punjab assembly over wheat procurement policy, plans protest

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Islamabad [Pakistan], April 27: Opposition members in the Punjab Assembly boycotted house proceedings on Friday, to show solidarity with wheat growers. They also announced plans to launch a protest on Monday against what they termed the poor wheat procurement policy of the incumbent government.
The issue of wheat procurement was raised in the house for the third day, with both the treasury and opposition members expressing dissatisfaction with the government’s assurances about procuring grain from local farmers
They expressed concern that an unclear official procurement target and the unusual delay in starting the procurement drive were affecting the local grain market to the disadvantage of growers.
Punjab Food Minister Bilal Yasin stated that the moisture level in the grain at present was high, up to 18 percent, which prevented his department from purchasing the produce as it could cause a loss to the government after drying and reducing its weight.
Punjab Assembly Speaker Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan said the government had fixed the minimum support price of wheat at Pakistani Rupees (PKR) 3,900 per 40 kilogram. However, it was being sold at PKR 3,200 in the open market as growers were unsure whether the department would purchase their produce from them, unlike in the past.
Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan noted that billions of rupees of the farming community were lying with middlemen, and sugarcane growers were worried about the recovery of their dues from the mills.
Sunni Ittehad Council chief whip Rana Shehbaz said his party had boycotted proceedings of the house and would launch a protest campaign on Monday to support the growers being affected by the government’s policy. He added that his party was in contact with all farmer groups for including them in the protest.
Speaking to reporters, he said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister’s wish to take over the federation was an attempt to lead the country into chaos.
He expressed regret that governments had been ousted since 2014 due to the attempts of one person to keep Pakistan unstable, according to the Dawn report.
In an apparent reference to PTI founder Imran Khan, Shehbaz said, “There is only one person responsible for the disaster in the country, and he is currently in jail.”

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