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LAHORE: The Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA) has warned of taking extreme measures if the mills were not allowed to procure wheat from the open market according to their needs.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, PFMA Central Chairman Asim Raza Ahmad and Punjab Chapter Head Iftikhar Matto said that in the past flour milling industry had been buying two million to 2.2 million tons of wheat upon arrival of the new crop besides the government procurement agencies and other buyers.

Purchases had been made from market surplus and this had never affected the government’s wheat procurement targets, flour and wheat markets remained stable till September-October, they added.

Non-supply of wheat: Flour millers warn of a ‘serious’ crisis

Despite the bumper crop of wheat this year, the situation was quite the opposite as the food department of Punjab was imposing undue restrictions on the purchase of wheat by flour mills.

The district administration was being pressurized to take over the wheat purchased by the flour mills under the pre-determined rules and declared regular by the food department which may damage the industry and it would not be acceptable in any way, they alleged.

They also claimed that due to the government’s initiative, the arrival of wheat in the market had been highly reduced; flour mills were facing difficulties in getting wheat to meet their daily needs. Wheat prices were gradually increasing in the market across the province and had reached the level of September-October, which had led to an increase in flour prices.

In Rawalpindi, wheat prices had reached Rs 5400 per forty kilograms which was alarming. The food department of Punjab had imposed undeclared restrictions on the inter-district and inter-provincial transportation of wheat, disrupting the wheat milling process and supply to the market, they added.

They claimed that flour mills were being harassed which was condemnable. The confiscation and forced lifting of wheat purchased from the premises of flour mills by the government and the closure of mills were unacceptable and millers strongly condemn it.

One of the reasons for the gradual increase in the prices of flour in the market is that the support price of wheat had been increased from 2200 rupees per 40 kg to 3900 rupees per 40 kg while reduced availability of wheat in the open market had also contributed to the price increase, they said.

A meeting of the Association earlier this morning expressed concern over the current situation and appealed to the Chief Minister to take personal notice to correct the situation. “We demand the Punjab government to immediately remove the unconstitutional inter-district and inter-provincial restrictions on the transportation of wheat and allow the flour milling industry to freely purchase and store wheat as per requirements. The process of lifting the declared wheat bought by the mills should be stopped immediately.

Flour mills should be allowed to do business freely according to the constitution of Pakistan. In case of positive action by the government, the prices of flour and wheat can be stabilized,“ they concluded.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Tulukan Mairandi May 05, 2023 08:57am
Famine looming
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