Sindh Chief Minister surprised over wheat flour price hike
Why the price is not coming under control if the food department was releasing enough wheat? Murad Shah questions officials
Food Minister claims releasing 8000 to 12000 tons of wheat daily to the millers. Sindh has wheat stocks to meet requirements till the end of February
From Our Correspondents
In an urgent meeting convened on Wednesday to review the wheat flour crisis, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah was surprised over the unprecedented price hike of wheat flour in the open market across the province.
“Why the price is not coming under control if the food department was releasing enough wheat? Murad Shah questioned the officials of food department when the Food Minister Mukesh Chawla claimed releasing 8000 to 12000 tons of wheat daily to the millers.
Murad Shah on his return from a donors’ conference in Geneva, held a meeting regarding price control of wheat flour and directed the food department to ensure Rs.95 per kg price in the open market and Rs.65 of subsidized flour sold by the food department.
Minister Food Mukesh Kumar Chawla told the Chief Minister that his department was releasing 8000 tons to 12000 tons of wheat daily and added the wheat stocks to meet the province’s wheat requirement till the end of February were available.
Giving details of the available stocks in the province, the food minister said that over 618,569 tons of wheat were available. “These stocks were enough to meet the province’s requirement till the end of February and from the first week of March new crops would start pouring into the market and the prices would go down automatically,” he said.
The chief minister directed the chief secretary to further activate district administration in controlling the prices of not only wheat flour but other commodities such as vegetables, fruit, chicken, beef, mutton, eggs, and pulses.
The meeting was also attended by Chief Secretary Sohail Rajput, Secretary Food Khurram Shahzad, and Director Food Imtiaz Shaikh.
Meanwhile, reports from across the province suggest that flour and wheat crisis has further deepened in Sindh as citizens found it difficult to get subsidized flour at Utility Stores as well as Subsidized Flour outlets established by the district administrations.
The shortage of flour left the customers in the lurch as people were seen returning empty-handed from utility stores and the government outlets.
Though the sacks of subsidized flour were supposed to be available at fixed places in the different cities, citizens complained of non-cooperation by the suppliers.
However it was observed that the mini-trucks were selling flour bags of 10-kg each at the rate of Rs.65 per kg. People had gathered around the vehicles in a disorganized way, pushing each other to grab the bag before the others.
Similar scenes of chaos were witnessed in other parts of Sindh including Khairpur, Sukkur, Larkana, Naushehro Feroze and other cities where flour was being sold through mini-trucks or vans.
There were reports that subsidized flour in green bags also was not easily available in the local markets.
Certain reports suggest that the subsidized flour was being sold in black market at the rate of Rs.700 to Rs.750 per 10kg instead of Rs.648 per 10kg in Sindh. The people of the province are forced to buy wheat flour at Rs.130 to Rs.140 per kilo in various areas of Sindh. In Karachi, the traders are charging Rs.800/- for five kilogram flour.
The people in various towns having found no respite from the rising prices of essential commodities again came on the roads to register their protest against the high-ups of Sindh government, who according to them, failed to control the prices of daily-use items in the whole province.