ISLAMABAD: Flour mill owners of the Rawalpindi Division have lodged a complaint with the federal government against Punjab administration for not permitting them to purchase wheat.
According to a letter written by the Pakistan Flour Mills Association addressed to the Ministry of National Food Security, a wheat crisis was looming in the country despite record wheat production.
Around 40pc of flour mills in Islamabad and Rawalpindi division are not functioning due to unavailability of wheat to grind.
The letter stated that flour mills were facing difficulty in purchasing wheat directly from farmers due to restrictions by the Punjab government.
Flour Mills Association Punjab Vice President Sheikh Kashif Shabir told Dawn that most of the flour mills situated in north Punjab as well as the federal capital do not have wheat. He said the main reason for this was the permit system that led to the shortage of wheat supply.
“While Punjab has achieved the purchase target of 3.5 million tonnes of wheat during the current season, flour mills are facing severe difficulties in procuring wheat,” the association pointed out, adding as a result flour mills were purchasing wheat at Rs2,040 per 40kg while the government rate was Rs1,800 per 40kg.
Mr Shabir, responding to a query, said the government had introduced a new system to control wheat supply and demand. The Punjab government has refused to recognise the permit system due to which there is a shortage of wheat.
Another factor that has led to shortage of the commodity and an increase in prices is that middlemen store wheat instead of selling it.
The association fears that flour prices will rise across the country after a rise in wheat prices in the open market. In case of an increase in the price of flour, the price of tandoori bread is also likely to increase.
The association has requested the food department of Punjab to abolish the permit system and allow flour mills to buy wheat from all over Punjab.
Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2021