LAHORE: The Punjab government has allowed flour mills to procure wheat from the open market with the condition that they will pay the officially fixed price of the produce to the farmers.

The permission was granted in a meeting between Chief Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar and a delegation of the Punjab chapter of Pakistan Flour Mills Association on Monday.

The millers, led by Asim Raza, Mian Riaz and Iftikhar Mattoo, informed Mr Khokhar of the problems being faced by the flour milling industry. This included the restrictions on directly purchasing wheat from farmers by the millers.

They also expressed concern at the reported permission to animal feed mills for procuring wheat from the open market and impounding of vehicles carrying wheat consignments of the flour mills.

The chief secretary was quoted as telling the delegation that the government would resolve genuine problems of flour millers however, it had to regulate prices of flour in the market as well.

He said the official wheat procurement target would be achieved in any case, adding that the flour mills could purchase wheat from market at the price fixed by the government.

He said that rights of farmers would be protected and purchase of wheat from farmers would be ensured at the price fixed by the government.

On millers’ complaint against food department staff, the chief secretary directed the food secretary to set up a special cell at the department to address complaints of the millers as well as of farmers.

An official told Dawn that no vehicle of the millers was being confiscated as was claimed by them.

According to him, only those vehicles, suspected of carrying the flour for smuggling the commodity out of the country, were being impounded.

He said that feed mills were not allowed to purchase wheat and they would be allowed to enter the procurement arena after the government complete its official target of procuring the grain that is four million tonnes.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the cabinet committee on wheat procurement was held at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat here which reviewed the ongoing wheat procurement campaign.

Chaired by Food Minister Samiullah Chaudhry the meeting was informed by Chief Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar that the wheat procurement target was being successfully achieved.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2019