Labourer loads flour bags from a warehouse – File photo by APP
KARACHI, May 5: Flour millers in Sindh increased prices of various wheat flour varieties on Sunday, for a third time in less than a week.
The cumulative increase in flour No 2.5 from Tuesday to Sunday comes to Rs3 per kg followed by Rs3.5 per kg in fine flour and superfine flour (maida) in the same period.
The price of flour No2.5 was enhanced to Rs1,760 on Tuesday from Rs1,700 followed by another increase to Rs1,790 on Saturday and to Rs1,850 per 50 kg bag on Sunday.
Similarly, the fine flour and superfine flour prices were raised to Rs1,855 on Tuesday from Rs1,775 and the millers increased the prices to Rs1,890 on Saturday and on Sunday the rate was further jacked up to Rs1,950 per 50 kg bag.
The Sindh food department and the caretaker government seem to have no time to check the frequent increases in the flour prices despite the fact that the country has harvested a bumper wheat crop this season.
A flour miller said he was now providing its good quality 10kg flour bag at Rs400 to retailers as compared to Rs370 earlier this week.
However, it was up to the retailers that how much profit they charged on each bag from the end users.
Trying to justify the price surge, Pakistan Flour Mills Association (Sindh Zone) chairman Chaudhry Ansar Jawed attributed it to rising wheat prices in the open market which touched Rs3,150 from Rs3,100 per 100kg bag on Tuesday. Some 15 days ago the wheat bag was available at Rs2,850 in the open market.
He said there was no shortage of flour and the millers would not allow any shortage but the provincial government and the president of Pakistan were not paying any heed to the association’s demand to put a ban on procurement of wheat by the hoarders, traders and wheat exporters for a short period.
Mr Ansar, in a letter to the president on May 2, said that the new wheat crop had arrived in the market and as a general rule prices had come down. Despite good crop prices were going up due to hectic purchasing of wheat by the exporters and also by hoarders to gain more profit in the forthcoming days.He urged the president to impose a ban on purchase of wheat by the exporters and hoarders for up to two months unless a true picture emerged and estimate of wheat harvest was confirmed and also procurement targets of the central government and Sindh were met successfully.
He said the Sindh government had so far procured 600,000 to 650,000 tonnes since April 8 from the growers, out of its procurement target of 1.3 million tonnes for the crop in 2012-2013.
However, the Sindh government on Tuesday imposed Section 144 restricting inter-district inflow/outflow of wheat stocks within the province to safeguard the interest of growers from undue competition and the benefit of subsidy is given to the Sindh growers. Another reason for imposing the restriction was the apprehension for transportation of wheat from adjoining border districts for procurement or hoarding. However, it seems that this wheat movement restriction has failed to bring about any results.
Mr Ansar said Section 144 did not apply to the flour millers, but officials posted on the border checkpoints were taking Rs2,000-3,000 per truck on the Sindh border on wheat purchased by the millers from the Punjab and Sindh growing areas.