LAHORE: Rejecting the wheat issuance policy of the Punjab government, the Punjab Flour Mills Association refused to accept wheat quota from the food department until it is given across the province.
It also announced continuing to sell flour at Rs1,055 per 20-kilogramme bag till their demand was met.
Taking cover of the federal government’s joint investigation team (JIT) report, the Punjab government has devised a policy to issue wheat on the basis of urban population, which is wrong and tantamount to inviting a crisis, flour milling industry leaders Asim Raza, Rauf Mukhtar, Liaquat Ali and Mian Riaz told a press conference here on Friday.
Say will continue selling flour at Rs1,055 per 20kg till demand met
They lamented that the government did not consult the millers about the policy, and claimed the whole industry had reservations over it. They alleged that the food secretary violated all the promises made with them regarding the provision of wheat from official storage and misguided the chief minister and provincial cabinet on the issue.
They said the price of flour would go up in line with the rate of wheat in the open market until the millers were given the grains at official rates.
The food secretary had assured them during negotiations a few weeks ago that the government would allot wheat quota to all the mills on equal basis instead of population and the price of wheat would also be Rs1,600 per 40kg. But the summary sent to the cabinet was abruptly changed.
The association leaders said the bureaucracy had formulated a wheat issuance policy that was entirely different from what had been agreed upon during talks with the millers, adding that the officials made these changes in view of the JIT report.
Under this policy, the mills in smaller towns would get insignificant grain quota that is not acceptable to the association, they asserted, demanding equal quota to all mills on the basis of their grinding capacity whether they were located in urban or rural areas.
They also demanded that change of extraction ratio of fine, bran and other ingredients from flour be introduced in phases otherwise the consumers, habitual of eating white flour, would complain about change in quality.
They further said that no flour mill would accept wheat from the food department until their reservations were resolved and all mills given equal quota as per their grinding capacity.
Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2020