KARACHI, Jan 8: A new controversy erupted on Tuesday after a ‘successful’ meeting between the Sindh food minister and flour mills representatives following the announcement of new ex-mill price of flour at Rs32 per kg and Rs33.50 per kg in retail by the food department, but the millers insisted that the price issue had not come up at the meeting.
According to a press release issued by the information department, wheat price had been reduced to Rs2,800 per 100kg bag from Rs2,850 as per a notification.
Officials have been directed to ensure the availability of flour to the common man at the new price. Field staffs have also been directed to keep a watchful eye on wheat flour prices and ensure that the flour mills sold it on the new “agreed/fixed prices”.
The food department said that slackness in this regard would not be tolerated.
The flour millers were happy describing their meeting with Sindh Food Minister Mir Nadir Ali Magsi on Tuesday as successful which was held to prevent a possible wheat and flour crisis besides resolving other issues.
Pakistan Flour Mills Association (Sindh) chairman Chaudhry Ansar Jawed, however, expressed surprise over the announcement of the ex-mill flour price by the food department in the evening. “The issue of ex-mill and retail flour prices was never discussed during the meeting with Mr Magsi on Tuesday,” he said, adding that selling flour at an ex-mill price of Rs32 per kg was not acceptable to the millers after procuring wheat at Rs2,800 per 100kg bag from the food department. He said in view of the demand and supply situation the millers would try to sell flour at Rs34 per kg (ex-mill) after buying wheat at Rs2,800 per 100kg bag.
The current ex-mill price is Rs37.50 per kg. “We will take up the ex-mill price issue with the food minister on Thursday,” he said.
Mr Jawed said the price of flour had risen owing to a short supply of wheat by the food department forcing the millers to buy wheat in the open market at higher rates.
Giving details of the meeting, he said the food minister had asked the food director to calculate wheat stock available with the department and then coordinate with the flour millers before allocating the commodity to the millers all over Sindh.
He said the minister announced the suspension of wheat supply to the traders/ exporters. The minister asked the millers to directly hold talks with the director of food and the secretary of food instead of holding talks or meetings with his coordinator Shahnawaz Magsi and PA Ilahi Bakhsh Chacho.
He said flour millers would hold talks with the food director on Wednesday for fixing wheat quota allocation per mill after calculating the stocks. Sindh has over 700,000 tonnes of wheat.