ISLAMABAD: Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) Sunday said that flour crisis is emerging due to the wrong policy of the Punjab government as it is forcing the flour mills to sell flour at retail price of Rs42.5/kg despite the fact that flour mills have to purchase wheat at Rs48.75/Kg.
President ICCI Muhammad Ahmed Waheed raised the question as to how the flour mills could provide flour at a cheaper price by purchasing wheat at higher price. He said that the Punjab government had set a wheat procurement target of 4.5 million ton, which could not be met despite the fact that the Punjab government seized the wheat procured by the middlemen and flour millers under the pretext of hoarding ordinance.
He said that the official rate of wheat procurement has been set at Rs.1475 per 40 Kg while the private sector has to buy wheat @ Rs1950 per 40 Kg and urged that the government should address this problem.
Waheed said that it is not possible for the flour millers to sell a 20-kg bag of flour at retail price of Rs850 by purchasing wheat @ Rs1,950 per 40 kg. He said that no business could sell finished goods at cheaper rate by buying and processing material at expensive rate and government should realize this fact.
He said that the government has allowed the private sector to import wheat but at least three months are required to import wheat. He said that the government should issue wheat quota to the flour mills up to their capacity to address flour shortage issue and warned that the flour crisis could escalate if coercive tactics are used in the matter.
The ICCI president appealed to the Prime Minister and the chief minister of Punjab to take the flour mills association into confidence for formulating wheat issuance policy as they were the key stakeholders in this matter and wheat policy should be finalized in consultation with them.
He said that in 2018-19, Punjab Food Department used to issue 55,000 tonnes of wheat daily while in 2019-20, 35000 tons wheat was issued daily which created shortage and price hike.
He said that now the government wants to issue only 15,000 tonnes of wheat daily @ Rs1,475 per 40 kg and is asking flour mills to keep retail price of flour at Rs850 per 20 kg which is not possible for them as they have to buy what @ Rs.48.75/Kg to meet their requirement.
He said that for the last six months, crises have been arising in the country and now the flour crisis is emerging. He appealed to the Prime Minister of Pakistan to take notice of this situation and issue orders to the relevant authorities for issuance of wheat quota to flour mills up to their capacity in order to avoid any flour crisis in the country.
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