QUETTA, May 16: Although the new wheat crop has arrived in the market, the Balochistan government has failed to bring down the price of flour which is selling at Rs30 per kilogramme in the open market.

The provincial government has increased the official price of flour to Rs19.5 but except at the state-owned Utility Stores it is impossible to get flour at this price everywhere in the province.

The government claims to have reached an agreement with the Punjab government for purchasing more than 350,000 tons of wheat but the situation on the ground is worsening.

A 100kg flour bag which was earlier available for Rs2,000 is now selling for more than Rs3,000 in Quetta. The shortage has taken a serious turn in rural areas, especially in the districts bordering Afghanistan, such as Chaman, Noshki and Zhob where a 100kg flour bag is being sold at around Rs4,000.

Long queues are seen outside Utility Stores where people wait for hours to buy flour at the control rate.

“We get only 200 20kg bags daily, which are not sufficient to meet the demands of the people of the area,” said an employee of a store.

Provincial secretary for food Mohammad Azam Baloch said that a comprehensive plan had been prepared to overcome the shortage and keep its price under control.

“We have reached an agreement with the Punjab government that private dealers from Balochistan would purchase 50,000 tons of wheat to cope with the situation” Mr Baloch told Dawn. He said that flour on controlled rates would be available at fair price shops and some fixed points in Quetta by Saturday. “A 20kg bag would be available at Rs390”, he said, adding that efforts were being made to overcome the crisis.

He said the provincial government had already directed anti-smuggling agencies to check the movement of flour along borders with Afghanistan.

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