UPDATE 1-Pakistan government approves plan to buy 300,000 tonnes of Russian wheat
(Adds details, background)
By Asif Shahzad
ISLAMABAD, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Pakistan's government on Monday approved a plan to buy 300,000 metric tonnes of wheat from Russia, the finance ministry said in a statement.
The country's Economic Coordination Committee, which is headed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, approved the plan proposed by the ministry of commerce to procure wheat from the Russian government.
The wheat was priced at $372 per tonne and will be shipped between Nov. 1 and Jan. 15, the ministry said, adding that it will be a government to government deal.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said the private sector would not be allowed to import the wheat to make it possible to get it at minimum price.
"One million tonnes of wheat has been imported, and another 1.6 million tonnes is being arranged," Sharif told an earlier news conference in Islamabad.
"We have decided not to allow the private sector to import wheat," he said, adding that the government needed to save on its depleting foreign reserves.
Standing and stored crops over millions of acres of farmland were damaged in the devastating floods caused by abnormal monsoon rains this season, which also washed away houses, bridges, roads and other infrastructure.
The floodwater will take months to dry out in southern Pakistan which might delay the cultivation of wheat and other crops for next season. (Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Writing by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Jan Harvey and Ed Osmond)
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