Pakistan: The federal government has come under criticism for providing Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with free wheat bread
Pakistan: The federal government has come under criticism for providing Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with free wheat bread (Image Courtesy-Facebook)

Pakistan: The federal government has come under criticism for providing Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with free wheat bread.

In response, they have requested that the Gilgit-Baltistan government target cost reductions for citizens who receive subsidised wheat and charge wealthy individuals market rates to maintain a steady supply.

Since they are much lower in the area than the rest of the nation, the GB government has agreed to raise the price of flour.

This year, the government budget set aside about Rs 8 billion for a wheat subsidy in Gilgit-Baltistan. However, with a supply of about 90,000 tonnes earlier this year, this subsidy has already been depleted due to increased prices brought on by expensive imports.

In economic reviews with the International Monetary Fund, the finance minister raised concerns about the significant price gap and rising subsidy costs.

The ministry wants to cut back or restrict subsidies, while the political leadership wants to appease the populace ahead of the next round of elections.

The finance ministry recently agreed to provide an additional subsidy of Rs2.9 billion to cover the expense of supplying 25,000 tonnes of wheat to Gilgit-Baltistan for two months, March and April, during a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet.

Since the 1970s, wheat has been provided to Great Britain at reduced prices due to the high cost of wheat flour in the area, where there is little wheat cultivation and poor infrastructure that makes transportation costly.

According to a document published by Dawn, flour is currently Rs12.5 per kg in Gilgit-Baltistan, whereas it is Rs140 or more everywhere in the nation. Every year, the federal government sends about 160,000 tonnes of wheat to Gilgit-Baltistan.

The finance division approves wheat deliveries from the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) to ensure the subsidy stays within the financial allotment.

As a result, there have been supplying shortages and a sharp rise in wheat prices on the black market in Gilgit-Baltistan. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif gave the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan instructions to bring the situation to the attention of the finance ministry.