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LAHORE: Flour millers seemed to be divided on the wheat release price of Rs 4700 per maund announced by the Punjab government the other day as the ruling group rejecting these rates demanded for its immediate revision and announcement of suitable rates while progressive group of flour millers termed the government announcement correct and a step in right direction.

Pakistan Flour Millers Association (PFMA) Central Chairman Asim Raza Ahmad and PFMA Punjab Chairman Riaz Ahmad Mattoo in their joint reaction said the wheat release prices were unrealistic. They said the government first bought wheat from the farmers at Rs 3900 per maund forcibly and now it was trying to sell it at Rs 4700 per maund.

They said the government also denied the flour mills to buy wheat from the market during the last harvesting season. They said the provincial food department lifted wheat not only from flour millers but also from the homes of growers and now wanted to sell the same grain on higher rates.

They appealed to the caretaker prime minister and the army chief to take notice of the issue and manage to announce new rates according to the circumstances.

Meanwhile, Khalique Arshad and Majid Abdullah, who spearhead Progressive Group Flour millers group in their reaction, said the government decided to release wheat at Rs 4700 per maund after adding storage charges, mark up and incidental charges in the procurement price.

They said subsidy is an illness and keeps government exchequer under constant pressure. They claimed the government had retired Rs 600 billion circular debt recently under this head. However, they added that now it was also the right of the flour mills to add their grinding charges in the procurement price and then announce prices of the flour under a liberal policy.

The Progressive Flour Millers Group said direct subsidy should be extended to those living below the poverty line so as to provide them some relief and at the same time reduce burden on the national exchequer.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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