PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Monday increased the daily wheat supply to flour mills in the province from 2,000 tons to 3,000 tons and restricted the inter-district flour movement to prevent shortage.
However, the Pakistan Flour Mills Association’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter rejected the move calling the 3,000 tons wheat supply insufficient.
Demanding 6,000 tons wheat for flour mills on a daily basis, it said the price hike couldn’t be contained in the open market under the prevailing circumstances following the Punjab government’s restriction on wheat supply to KP.
Also, nanbais demanded the authorities increase roti price and warned if that didn’t happen within two days, they would increase price on their own.
They insisted that they won’t be able to work if flour supply wasn’t subsidised.
Millers say increase insufficient; nanbais demand higher roti price
Information minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai and food minister Qalandar Khan Lodhi told a joint news conference here that the decision about increase in wheat supply to flour mills and restriction on flour movement through the imposition of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was made during a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and attended by the chief secretary, provincial police chief and senior food department officials here.
The meeting was informed that the province had sufficient stock of wheat and flour but the vested interests were trying to create artificial shortage.
“We have enough wheat stock and therefore, the supply of wheat to flour mills has been increased from 2,000 tons to 3,000 tons from Monday,” said Mr Lodhi.
The minister said he was optimistic that better wheat supply to mills would stabilise the market and reduce flour price.
Mr Yousafzai denied the shortage of wheat and flour in the province and said Section 144 had been imposed to restrict the movement of wheat and flour out of the province.
He said the deputy commissioners had been told to check flour price on the market on a daily basis and conduct raids on mills and godowns to check hoarding.
The minister said the federal government recently decided to allow the export of semolina and fine flour (maida) to Afghanistan prompting the smuggling of flour under the garb of the export of the flour by-products.
He said the Punjab government had banned the wheat supply to KP in light of the flour smuggling to Afghanistan.
The minister profiteers exploited the situation and began hoarding flour to create shortage.
He said at the KP’s request, the centre had withdrawn the notification of semolina and fine flour export to Afghanistan.
The minister said the chief minister had requested the prime minister to review the decision about the export of the by-products of wheat flour.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Flour Mills Association, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, demanded the government lift restriction on the supply of wheat and flour to ensure that the districts without flour mills don’t suffer.
The demand was made during a meeting of the association’s executive committee.
PFMA, KP, chairman Haji Mohammad Iqbal chaired the meeting, where the representatives of flour mills were in attendance.
“Over 50 per cent of KP’s flour mills have already closed down, while the government’s latest policy is forcing the rest to follow suit. If that happens, the local economy will suffer badly leaving thousands jobless,” Mr Iqbal said.
He told Dawn afterward that the government should provide wheat to mills at the rates charged in Punjab.
The PFMA chairman said 3,000 tons supply was insufficient, so the government should ensure the supply of 6,000 tons wheat to the mills on a daily basis to prevent flour crisis in the province.
He feared that if the government didn’t meet the demand, the province would be hit by a serious flour crisis.
Mr Iqbal also opposed any crackdown on flour dealers and warned such move would lead to a serious flour shortage and unprecedented price hike.
Also, Nanbai Association, Peshawar, president Khaista Gul warned if the demand for higher roti price wasn’t met within two days, nanbais would either increase the roti price or reduce its weight.
Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2019