KARACHI: Flour prices have been reduced as provinces aim to provide relief to the masses in Ramazan, with Punjab taking the lead.
The Punjab government subsidised the sale of flour all over the province whereas in Sindh, the private sector attempted to give relief but on a limited scale.
In Sindh, millers unilaterally slashed price by Rs2 per kg at the fair price shops of mills and in Bachat Bazaars in Karachi.
In Punjab, the provincial government initiated the move and slashed the flour price by Rs4 per kg at all shops across the province.
Experts expect the price of flour to crawl down in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KPK) as well when the two provinces get bulk of their supplies from Sindh and Punjab.
The millers in Sindh on Wednesday cut the flour rate to Rs36 (ex-mill) per kg from Rs38 per kg.
Pakistan Flour Mills Association (Punjab Chapter) Chairman Mian Riaz said that after a reduction of Rs4 per kg, flour would be available at Rs33 per kg, while at Bachat and Sasta Bazaars, it would be sold at Rs31 per kg as per a decision of the Punjab government.
“In Khyber Paktunkhawa, neither the provincial government nor the millers announced any Ramazan package so far,” PFMA KPK Chapter chairman Anees Ashraf said.
He added that the provincial government was already dependent on arrival of flour from Punjab. The province also procures wheat from Punjab to run the mills which proves too costly, he explained.
Consumers will get a discount of Rs2 per kg on flour only at the 170 fair price shops of flour mills across Sindh and at 110 Bachat Bazaars in Karachi.
No reduction has been made for the retail shops in Karachi. However, there would be no limit on lifting flour bags from the mills’ fair price shops.
The decision was taken by the PFMA Sindh Chapter on Wednesday under the chairmanship of Chaudhry Mohammad Yousuf.
Talking to Dawn, he said that millers had already informed the Sindh Food Minister about the possible price reduction.
“We have slashed prices on our own without demanding subsidy from the government,” PFMA Sindh chief claimed, adding that the association had already asked the government not to announce any Ramazan package since the millers have already planned a relief package.
In the third week of May, millers on the request of Commissioner Karachi reduced the rate of flour bag (atta no.2.5) to Rs38 from Rs39.50 per kg.
The price of 100 kg wheat bag in the open market had fallen to Rs3,300 from Rs3,400 last month and so far wheat rate had been stable on improved supply from Sindh and some quantities from Punjab, he said.
Yousuf said the Sindh government has so far procured 1.2 million tonnes of wheat at the rate of Rs 1,250 per 40 kgs from growers as against the target of 1.3 million tonnes.
He said flour mills in Karachi and Sindh were lifting wheat bags from the open market while the Sindh government would start providing wheat to millers in the last quarter of the current year.
Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2014