September 26, 2020

Row over wheat purchase persists

The deadlock persisted between the World Bank and Punjab government over wheat procurement target, as the lender looked to cut purchases from farmers by two-third to take the pressure off the provincial public finances and stop wastage.

The disagreement has resulted in slow progress on a $300 million loan programme that the World Bank had approved over two years ago. In its latest Implementation Status and Result report, the World Bank has retained “moderately satisfactory” rating of Punjab Agriculture and Rural Transformation Programme due to lack of progress in implementation of a key condition to reduce wheat stocks from six million to two million metric tons by end of next year.

“The World Bank and the client agreed to have an in-depth discussion on it during the upcoming mid-term review from August to October 2020 and reach a restructuring package to break the deadlock,” according to the report. As per the condition of the programme that the last Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had agreed to, the provincial government will cut wheat procurement from six million metric tons in 2017 to just two million metric tons by December 2021.

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