Islamabad: /DNA/ – Muhammad Shakeel Munir, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) said that the recent flash floods in the country have created prospects for shortage of many agricultural items including wheat, vegetables and cotton etc. due to which the inflation was on the rise and has called upon the government to allow limited imports of essential items including wheat, vegetables and cotton from India through Wagah border in order to cope with the rising inflation and save the people from more problems. He said that besides causing losses of billions of rupees to the economy, the floods have destroyed crops on millions of acres of land while the stagnant water in Sindh was diminishing the prospects for cultivation of wheat, vegetables and other agricultural products. This situation would create food shortages in the country and bring more miseries to the common man.
Muhammad Shakeel Munir said that Pakistan was short of abour 3.0 million tons of wheat this year and Indian wheat suited the taste requirements of our people while its import was also logistically cheaper through Wagah border. He said so was the case with onions, tomatoes, lentils and other essential food items. He said that the revival of cultivation of local agricultural products in flood affected areas would take time and importing such items from India could be the best cost effective option as it would reduce the time and logistics cost of imports. He said this would also reduce pressure on the country’s balance of payment situation as importing of food items and cotton from India was cheaper as compared to importing them from countries located farther away. Therefore, he urged that the government should give serious consideration to this option.
Jamshaid Akhtar Sheikh Senior Vice President and Muhammad Faheem Khan Vice President ICCI said that the textile products were the major exports of Pakistan, but the destruction of cotton by floods has necessitated the import of raw cotton from India to save the textile exports from further fall. They said that prices of vegetables and other commodities have risen significantly in the local markets making them unaffordable for the poor people. They were of the view that to bring stability in the prices of food items and save people from hunger & starvation, it was very important that the government should urgently allow the import of agricultural products from India in the larger interest of the country.