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KARACHI: President of the Pakistan Businesses Forum (PBF) Mian Usman Zulfiqar has urged the provincial governments to make sure that wheat flour is available in market on competitive rates and have an in-depth check and balance over it on a daily basis.

As subsided flour has almost disappeared from the markets amid worsening shortage of the commodity in Punjab, Usman Zulfiqar said common man can’t afford the weekly increases in the flour prices.

In Punjab a few days back the 15kg flour price was Rs 1200. Now it is hiked to Rs 1600 despite the government rates are much lesser than market rates. He said but no flour is available on the government rates that show the district administration of the Punjab has failed to ensure the writ of the government to facilitate the common man.

Similarly flour is also short in the markets of Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta. It is available at very high prices, which needs to be looked into seriously.

He requested All Pakistan Flour Mills Association to ensure proper supply of flour in Sindh and Balochistan, especially in the flood-affected areas on government rates so that the affectees may get some relief.

However, Vice Chairperson PBF Balochistan Chapter Sana Durrani said that even in Quetta the prices of flour have skyrocketed besides in other parts of Balochistan while the commodity was not available at most shops across the province. Meanwhile, a 20-kg bag of flour was being sold from Rs2,380 to Rs2,500.

PBF’s Sindh Chapter Chairman, Mir Murad Ali Talpur said the price of wheat has surged by up to 10-20% on the outlook for a possible delay in sowing of the staple crop in October and doubling of the grain support price to Rs4,000 per 40 per kg by the Sindh government for the next cultivation season.

He maintained that reserves of wheat were available in the open market to meet the local requirements but profiteers were speculating due to possible delay in the cultivation of the crop following devastating floods in the country.

The PBF President Usman Zulfiqar further said that we have a strong view to increase the quota of flour mills to ensure the availability of subsidised flour in abundant quantity to citizens. Currently three flour mills have been sealed for hoarding govt flour in Multan region.

He demanded simultaneous release of wheat from all the four provinces to ensure stability in the prices and help remove panic buying.

Similarly, PBF has shown grave concern over the delay in opening letters of credit (LCs). The industrial production has stopped due to non-availability of parts, bank payments are not being made, operational expenses are also becoming difficult to meet, which has increased the fear of unemployment, he added.

Large firms in Pakistan rely on imported raw materials/ parts, which run our industries. In this regard Finance Minister and Governor State Bank should take immediate notice of the situation to ensure timely opening of the LCs.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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