Wheat flour price raised by Rs 170 per 20-kg bag
January 09, 2013
ABDUL RASHEED AZAD & FAZAL SHER
Flour mills and wholesalers have increased wheat flour price by Rs 170 per 20-kg bag. Consumers and retailers told Business Recorder on Tuesday that masses are compelled to purchase low quality flour at higher prices due to deceptive marketing practices by flour mills, wholesalers in connivance with the authorities concerned.
The government is providing wheat from its stocks to mills at Rs 1,125 per 40-kg or Rs 28.25 per kg, while mills are selling per 20-kg bag of flour at Rs 750, Rs 1,500 per 40-kg or Rs 42 per kg, an official said. The official added that at present public sector wheat stocks stand at around 8.30 million tons and the public sector, on average, releases annually 6.5 million tons to flour mills and other stakeholders.
He said the authorities have received complaints regarding increase in wheat flour price, which is unjust. The new wheat support price of Rs 1,200 per 40-kg is not effective as yet, but mills on their own have enhanced flour price because of poor check and balance by the concerned authorities, he added. According to flour mill owners and traders, prices have been increased due to reduction in quota of wheat by the provincial food departments.
The federal government has earmarked Rs 1.15 billion for wheat operations and Rs 4 billion for wheat reserve stocks in the federal budget 2012-13. The Punjab food department has reduced wheat supply from 40,000 tons per day to 22,000 tons per day to flour mills of the province. Khyber Pakhtunkhawa food department has reduced wheat supply from 7,000 tons per day to 2,500 tons per day and Sindh food department has almost stopped wheat supply to flour mills, putting the entire burden on Punjab, an official of All Pakistan Flour Mills Association said.
Balochistan where flour price has reached Rs 750 per 20-kg bag is totally reliant on Punjab and Sindh for wheat and wheat products. The official said the increase in the commodity price is due to high demand and low supply, adding that wheat flour was also being smuggled to Afghanistan and the impact of the current wheat support price which has been fixed at Rs 1,200 per 40-kg against Rs 1,050 per 40-kg will be passed on to consumers by May or June.
“Flour mills have requested the government to release 500,000 tons of wheat and if the government accepts our request, the commodity price would come down otherwise it will further increase,” Asim Raza Ahmed, a flour miller told Business Recorder.
Asim said the Sindh government has suddenly stopped wheat supply to flour mills of the province. Previously, the provincial government was releasing wheat as per demand. This step of the Sindh government has created serious problems for the people of Sindh and Balochistan where price of a 20-kg bag has reached Rs 780 or Rs 40 per kg.
When contacted, District Food Controller Islamabad Chaudhry Muhammad Afzal confirmed that the price of flour has increased. He added that recently the government increased wheat price by Rs 55 per 40-kg and “we have received complaints of increase in the commodity price.” District administration has started conducting raids in various parts of the federal capital and took action against people involved in overcharging. “The team of ICT food department is not only checking rates but verifying supply reports of retailers,” Afzal said.
He said that district administration has also started collecting flour sample for testing at National Institute of Health (NIH). “The administration will take strict action against those found involved in selling substandard flour.” Following the increase in wheat flour price, it has been observed that flour was not available in government-run/subsidised utility stores.