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LAHORE: Flour millers while rejecting the wheat release policy of the Punjab Food Department (PFD) has announced that neither the mills will enter into any agreement with the provincial government nor will lift wheat quota for the next five days.

"If our grievances are not resolved in five days then we will convene another meeting of the millers from Punjab and announce to shutdown the grinding process," said the PFMA Punjab President Asim Raza Ahmad while addressing a press conference here on Monday.

Around 300 millers from across the province converged and discussed the wheat release policy 2021 by the department and rejected because not only grinding charges of the mills were reduced but issuance of wheat quota to mills is also announced to be on population basis. Grinding charges have been reduced by Rs 200 per 100 kilograms bringing these down to Rs 400 from earlier Rs 600, he added and asked the department to revisit it as it seemed to be miscalculated.

He said major stakeholders (flour mills) were not taken on board while devising the wheat release policy for the current year. He said that extraction ratio had also been changed which would further hit the mills financially.

Replying to a question, he said that release price of Rs 1,950 per 40 kg is also not acceptable as it would push the price of flour upward. "If the government intends to keep the prices at Rs 1,100 per 20 kg bag then it should issue wheat to mills at Rs 1,874 per 40 kg," he added.

Regarding daily consumption for Punjab, he said at present 20,000-22,000 tons of wheat is needed daily which last year was at 18,500 tons per day. He said by releasing 16,200 tons per day would not meet the requirement at all.

Asim Raza Ahmad said there would be no closure of operations during next five days and mills would lift wheat from the open market to meet their grinding requirements. He said there would be no immediate increase in the price but if wheat prices in open market increases it would lead to increase in flour prices too. At present wheat is available at Rs 2,300 per maund in Rawalpindi and Rs 2250-2260 per maund in Lahore so the ex-mill price of 20 kg bag is Rs 1,200 and market rate is Rs 1,230 per bag.

The PFMA Punjab President said mills have some 800,000 tons of wheat while another 400,000 tons is available in the open market for grinding. To various questions, he said Pakistan had a bumper wheat crop this year but still it needs 1-1.5 million tons of additional wheat to meet its growing population.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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