Islamic Development Bank has agreed to provide loan to Pakistan Agriculture Storage & Service Corporation Limited (Passco) for enhancing its storage capacity up to 0.6 million tons and a summary to this effect has been put to Economic Co-ordination Committee of Cabinet for approval, National Assembly”s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was informed on Thursday.
MD PASSCO Major General Tauqeer (retd) informed the PAC that 80 per cent amount would be contributed by IDB and the rest of the amount released by the federal government if the summary was approved. The meeting of PAC was held under the chair of Nadeem Afzal Gondal. The committee reviewed the audit reports of Ministry of Food Security and Research for year 2004-05 and 2006-07. The PAC showed its serious concern over distribution of wheat bags (Bardana) among growers for the purpose of procurement of wheat and sought a comprehensive plan from Pakistan Agriculture Storage & Service Corporation Limited (Passco) how to replace the system. The MD Passco said that experiences in the past showed that existing Bardana system was not ideal and needed change. Growers were not beneficiaries of support price for wheat announced by the government, but most of the time they sold their produce to the middle man, he added. Earlier, Hamid Yar Hiraj pointed out loopholes in ”Bardana” system.
Last year, he said in his constituency wheat bags were sold at Rs 80 to Rs 100 each. More than 150,000 wheat bags were sold illegally to farmers in his constituency. Although it was a provincial subject but the federal government”s intervention was required to control the misuse of the scheme by the influential people of the area, he urged. Last year, the government had allocated subsidy of Rs 5 billion to Passco for procurement of wheat from growers. However, they did not finalise their strategy for procurement, the MD said. Replying to a query of a parliamentarian, he said that the corporation could not purchase surplus wheat as money was borrowed from banks for the procurement of wheat. “We have tried to reduce our Rs 26 billion liabilities by releasing surplus wheat to market, and are planning to market wheat lying in our storages for the last two years.
Exporting this wheat to Central Asian Countries is one of the options,” he explained. In a ruling, the chairman PAC directed the Ministry of Food Security to end the practice of giving the government vehicles at depreciated prices to grade 20 and grade 21 officers on their retirements from Passco. He declined the plea of the MD that board had approved this policy and implemented it in almost all corporations. The chairman observed that the government officers did not use those vehicles which they would purchase at depreciated price and use field vehicles.
Thus, they enjoy two vehicles with extra maintenance and petrol allowance. The chairman directed principal account officer to constitute a committee which would provide detail of all the vehicles which were presently in the ministry”s possession and those which had been given at depreciated price. The PAC also strongly opposed resumption of ”crops maximisation programme” and termed it a ”total fraud”. The chairman said if the programme were restarted, principal accounting officer of Ministry of Food Security would be held accountable.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2012