Pakistan: Govt flour supply less than wheat quota


The situation has resulted in apprehensions about smuggling and sale of the wheat in the black market.

According to sources in the food department, it is suspected that subsidised wheat is being bought for Rs2,300 per 40kg and sold in the market by some elements for up to Rs4,300.

Meanwhile, sufficient 10kg bags of subsidised flour are not available at the rate of Rs648 due to high demand.

On the other hand. a 15kg bag of privately produced flour is priced at Rs1,800 to Rs1,850. In retail sale, the price of whole wheat flour has risen to a record Rs165 per kg.

On the other hand, the food department is conducting checking the checkpoints and flour mills after forming special teams to prevent smuggling of wheat and flour.

The sources said the four crisis in other provinces had also aggravated.

They told The Express Tribune that 23,000 metric tonnes of wheat was being released from government warehouses in Punjab every day. Yet the citizens are facing severe difficulties in getting subsidised flour from the markets.

The Punjab Food Department claims 500,000 bags of subsidised flour are being provided in Punjab daily.

The sources said Punjab’s flour mills were receiving subsidised wheat at Rs2,300, while its price in the open market had reached Rs4,300 per 40kg.

The whooping difference of Rs2,000 is allegedly used by some mill owners to take unfair advantage.

The sources said a substantial proportion of the quota released by the Punjab government was being misappropriated. Some of the quantity is sold in the local markets and the rest in other provinces.

Official statistics show the availability of plenty of subsidised flour in Punjab, but the situation on the ground is different. The sources said smugglers were also taking advantage of the situation, whereas long queues at the government flour sale points and trucks proved that the crisis had not been resolved.

People in some areas complained that they had to stand in the queues for hours yo buy the subsidised flour.

According to the sources, the Punjab Food Department currently has 1.5 million tonnes of wheat in stock, while 2.5 million tonnes more had been requested. The federal government has assured Punjab government of wheat supply. But the import is likely to take up to 45 days. If the release of wheat continues at the current rate, the reserves of Punjab will be exhausted by March 15, making it difficult to manage the supply during Ramazan.

Due to the expensive flour, the price of bread is also increasing.

Punjab Food Secretary Muhammad Zaman Wattoo said in reply to a question that he had just taken charge of the post but was aware of the difficulties of the people due to the flour crisis. He said special teams had been formed to prevent the smuggling of wheat flour and there would be no place for corrupt officers in the department.

He said an audit of three months’ electricity bills of quota-seeking flour mills also been ordered. Officials will certify the milling and power consumption as per wheat quota.

The steps had been taken to prevent corruption and unearth ‘ghost flour mills’, he added.

The secretary said he had ordered that the amount of wheat quota should be mentioned on a website for the people.

He said the people could also check the presence of flour mills in their area in accordance with the data on the website and if they were operating. This would help

prevent the misuse of subsidy given from the national treasury, he added.

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