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Ministry of Trade: We need cash to rebuild the grain stocks
Economy News _ Baghdad
On Sunday, the Ministry of Commerce said it needs more money from the budget to form a strategic reserve of wheat and rice for three months, as the country faces the growing problems of the Corona virus.
A political crisis that has been going on for months has caused delays in approving the budget for Iraq, a major grain importer in the Middle East.
The ministry statement said that it is necessary “to have sufficient financial allocations to provide a strategic storage sufficient for three months, especially since the Ministry’s law emphasizes the ministry’s role in providing strategic storage for emergency situations.
“Failure to approve the budget for the current year has an impact on the Ministry’s plans to increase ration card items.”
Iraq depends on OPEC member oil revenues in 95 percent of its income, and is expected to reduce spending in light of the continued decline in crude prices against the background of the collapse of the production agreement between OPEC and its allies.
The collapse of crude oil prices coincides with a political vacuum in Iraq since Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned from the Prime Minister following massive protests against corruption.
Iraq has monitored 229 cases of coronavirus so far, and it recorded 20 deaths. The numbers of cases are likely to be much higher due to the limited testing facilities in the country whose health system is already operating at maximum capacity.
The ministry did not say how much it had stockpiled, but sources told Reuters on March 3 that rice was enough for about two months.
Iraq had intended to purchase 750,000 tons of wheat from abroad in 2020.
The country needs between 4.5 million and five million tons of wheat annually for the ration card program. Iraq mixes domestic wheat in quantities that come from Australia, Canada and the United States.
The Iraqi Grain Board, affiliated to the Ministry of Commerce, is launching regular international tenders for importing wheat and rice for the supply cards program, which includes rice, flour, cooking oil and sugar.
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