The Finance Division has reportedly opposed a proposal of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to donate 200,000 tons of wheat to the World Food Programme (WFP) for use within the country because it involves Rs6.25 billion financial implication on the budget, it was learnt.
Sources told Business Recorder that the Finance Division termed the signing of a Letter of Intent (LoI) by the Ministry of National Food and Security in this regard a clear violation of rules of business which required consultation with the Finance Division.
The Ministry stated that donation of 500,000 tons of wheat per annum to the WFP would require a subsidy/cost of Rs15.625 billion, which, under the circumstances, “cannot be afforded”.
“The issue should have been thought through in terms of cost and its implications for the budget before signing the LoI,” it added. The Finance Division argued that the cost of wheat would have to the paid to Passco from the budget as and when required.
The Finance Division stated that since the Ministry had already signed an LoI, the ECC may consider approving a one-time donation of 50,000 tons from Passco reserves.
The Ministry of Food Security maintained that in pursuance of the Prime Minister”s directives to tackle the issue of hunger and malnutrition, an LoI was signed with the WFP whereby the government of Pakistan resolved to donate 500,000 tons of wheat to the WFP for conversion to high nutrition diets for distribution through its programmes for children under five years of age in food insecure districts.
The Ministry requested that to address food insecurity/malnutrition and kick-start the National Zero Hunger Programme, 200,000 tons of wheat out of Passco”s stocks may be provided to the food insecure/poor people in the country. The cost of subsidy will be Rs6.25 billion, which may be picked up by the government and WFP will cover all associated costs to the tune of Rs3.1 billion.