Following the government decision to lockdown the country depending on the extent of spread of coronavirus, the flour millers besides increasing the wheat-flour price by Rs 140 per 25kg bag, from Rs 1,060 to Rs 1,200 per 20kg bag and also reduced the commodity supply to wholesalers and retailers, which has created flour shortage in the market.
According to the wheat-flour wholesalers and retailers during past few days the flour millers located in Rawalpindi Islamabad have not only increased the commodity price but also not supplying the commodity to the shopkeepers and wholesalers, saying they have not received quota from the government.
Shafiq Abbasi, Malik Zafar, Sohaib Malik wheat-flour, pulses and sugar traders of Rawalpindi/Islamabad told Business Recorder that since March 20th the flour millers were reluctant to supply the 25kg wheat flour bag, while the millers have totally stopped the supply of government's scheme flour bag of 20kg.
The traders said prices of all the pulses have jumped up by Rs 20-30 per kg, ghee/cooking oil price has jumped by Rs90 per 5kg tin, sugar price by Rs 100 per 50kg bag besides the prices of other commodities.
Business Recorder also observed acute shortage of various essential commodities including wheat flour, pulses, vegetables, fruits in the market, which traders attributed to the disruption of supply chain. Traders at the wholesales grain/fruit/vegetable market Rawalpindi/Islamabad told Business Recorder here on Tuesday that after the imposition of lockdown the whole demand/supply chain is disrupted. They said that flour millers, sugar millers and pulse processors and importers are finding it hard to keep up the supply of essential commodities with most markets, such as vegetables, edible oil, grain and pulses being disrupted either because they do not have workers, or transport facilities are not smooth. If such a situation continues for long, scarcity could be a major problem, market leaders said.
Moreover, the drug manufacturers have also voiced serious concerns over the manhandling of the factory workers by the law enforcement agencies, saying that despite the exemption provided by the government to medicine factory workers from lockdown, the police, rangers and other law enforcement agencies are not letting the workers go to their places of work.
Senior officer bearer of Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association Dr Kaiser Waheed Sheikh said that if the law enforcement agencies did not change their attitude the workers will sit at homes, which will be resulted in serious shortage of all the medicines. Sheikh said that if drug factories closed down and medicine production stopped it will be disastrous for the country. Already there is shortage of a number of drugs related to the treatment of critical diseases especially related to allergy, cancer, asthma, besides the shortage of surgical masks, facemasks and sanitizers.
A representative of Islamabad/Rawalpindi vegetable market said market is open but the lack of workers, and the fact that several roadside retail vegetable vendors went out of business for a different set of reasons have caused serious disruptions. He added in Rawalpindi/Islamabad fruit and vegetable market enough stock is available and that the traders are waiting for retailers to lift it but in the absence of transport most of the perishable stuff will be rotten.
People talking to this correspondent said that the many items are just vanishing from various stores as the people having money are coming to buy everything and in huge stocks.
Harris Qureshi who runs a grocery shop said that there was also shortage in supply as people wanted fresh vegetables but owing to transportation problem supply could not reach.
"As people came to know about the lockdown they just descended over the store and took everything home yesterday," said Ahmad. Many were there who did not afford huge quantity of vegetables came there now but he was facing shortage in supply, he added.