Iraq cancels direct cash purchases of food
Baghdad, May 29, 2011
Iraq's trade ministry has cancelled direct cash purchases of essential food items, such as sugar, wheat and rice, as a measure to halt corruption, Deputy Trade Minister Sweiba Mahmoud said on Sunday.
But Iraq, one of the world's largest grain importers, would continue to hold public and selective tenders to supply its food needs. However, most of the essential food items imported for the national ration programme had come from direct cash purchases, a ministry source said.
Mahmoud told a news conference the bulk of corruption problems in the country's food supply channels had been experienced in the area of direct cash purchases.
'There was a mechanism of cash purchase in the trade ministry and this mechanism has been cancelled,' she said.
Mahmoud said Iraq had enough sugar in stock to last until September. 'We have enough reserves in the trade ministry warehouses to cover requirements until the end of September,' she said.
Iraq consumes around 4.5 million tonnes of wheat a year, 1.2 million tonnes of rice, and 780,000 tonnes of sugar annually.-Reuters