ISLAMABAD: The Competition Commission of Pakistan has suggested to the government that the policy of fixing minimum wheat support price is adding distortions to the economy and creating circular debt in the food sector.
A note tilted “Policy recommendations in the wheat sector” released by the CCP on Wednesday highlighted that the government can bring transparency in the official departments only through minor amendments in existing laws.
It said the heavily controlled wheat sector by government is less advantageous for both small farmers and the scale atta chakki mills, despite the latter being the major supply chain players, whereas there is no official quality check of wheat products by flour mills.
The share of chakki mills in supply of wheat flour was currently over 75 per cent of total consumption, but more than 95pc of wheat subsidised quota is issued to roller flour mills annually, it said.
“The flour mills distribute wheat flour to retail and wholesale shops, clay ovens and occasionally directly to consumers,” the policy note said, with a senior official of the CCP adding that there were serious concerns over the quality and output of the roller mills.
“The government can eradicate wheat flour crises simply by taking two steps: first by making the labelling mandatory at all flour bags showing contents of flour such as percentage of choker, etc and other components,” the official said. Secondly, the government should make it mandatory that the subsidised wheat be used only to make whole wheat and not other products like “maida, fine atta, suji, choker” etc.
“These are profitable items and the main focus of flour mills is to make these products, these are also the main items smuggled / exported to Afghanistan, whereas the quality of wheat flour supplied by the flour mills is very low,” the official added.
Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2020