PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Tuesday claimed that flour price in the province went up extraordinarily due to the high wheat support price announced by the Sindh government.

“Sindh’s unusual move to take wheat support price to Rs4,000 per 40kg after Punjab and KP fixed it at Rs3,100 is abnormally driving flour rate up in our province as Punjab’s growers are sending their produce to Sindh for better payments,” KP food minister Mohammad Atif Khan told a presser here.

The minister said the last year’s wheat support price was Rs2,200 per 40 kg and KP and Punjab increased it to Rs3,100 for the current year.

He said flour price also went up due to the “natural” increase in wheat rate.

Minister says Punjab’s growers sending wheat to southern province due to higher support price there; announces 30pc increase in mills quota

In the day, the flour price stabilised a little in the provincial capital by coming down from Rs3,300 per 20kg bag on Monday to Rs2,800.

The food minister also denied reports of flour smuggling to Afghanistan.

When asked about the videos of Afghanistan-bound wheat containers circulating on social media, he insisted that those shipping containers belonged to the World Food Programme, which had procured wheat in question from the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation.

Mr Atif said KP required five million tons of wheat annually, while its production stood at 1.3 million tons.

He said the province purchased 1.2 million tons from Punjab and Passco, while 25 million tons of wheat and flour were procured by the private sector from Punjab.

The minister said the KP government had sufficient wheat stocks, which were released to flour mills on a daily basis in predetermined quantities.

“We [government] have to apportion this wheat in storage from one to another season and release the daily quota to flour mills,” he said.

Mr Atif said subsidised flour supplied by the government across the province was meant for the poor and needy people and not the rich. He said there was no shortage of wheat or flour in the province and the issue was all about higher price.

The minister said the country had recorded high inflation for the last one year with a 30 per cent hike being reported in the last few months.

He said appreciation of the American dollar’s value against Pakistani rupee’s also caused the prices of other commodities to increase and affected everything eventually.

“If a nanbai [baker] gets expensive wheat, then the rotis sold by him will also become expensive,” he said.

Mr Atif also said the provincial government had decided to increase the daily quota for flour mills by 30 per cent to control flour price.

“We are increasing the daily wheat quota of mills from 5,000 tons to 6,500 tons,” he said.

The minister, however, said the huge difference between the price of flour sold on the open market and that of the subsidised one was causing long queues of people in the province.

“Everyone is trying to purchase subsidised flour, which is sold for Rs1,300 per 20 kg bag,” he said.

Mr Atif said the provincial government had decided to “scrutinise” the dealers of subsidised flour across the province. He said the IT department had prepared a mobile app to document the inventory of dealers and those buying flour from them.

“We will make all dealers of subsidised flour upload details of their sales on the Internet along with the ID card numbers and contacts of buyers. Officials will randomly call buyers from those lists to check if the subsidised flour is reaching the deserving people,” he said.

The minister said the government had decided not to allow flour export to Afghanistan in a bid to stabilise its price on the local market.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2023

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