Provinces urged to ensure wheat availability on competitive rates – Business & Finance

KARACHI: Pakistan Business Forum (PBF) President Mian Usman Zulfiqar urged provincial governments to ensure flour is available in markets at competitive prices as subsidized flour has almost disappeared from markets amid worsening commodity shortages in Punjab.

Usman Zulfiqar said the common man cannot afford the weekly increase in flour prices.

In Punjab the price of 15kg flour was Rs 1200 few days ago. Now it is available for Rs 1600 although the government prices are much lower but flour is not available at the government prices.

Similarly, flour is also scarce in the markets of Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta, with high prices that should be seriously considered.

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He called on the All Pakistan Flour Mills Association to ensure flour supplies in Sindh and Balochistan, particularly in the flood-hit areas, at government rates so victims can be compensated to some extent.

PBF Balochistan Chapter vice chair Sana Durrani also shared that even in Quetta, flour prices have increased, including other parts of Balochistan, while the commodity is unavailable in most shops across the province. Meanwhile, a 20kg sack of flour was selling for 2,380-2,500 rupees.

Mir Murad Ali Talpur, chairman of PBF’s Sindh chapter, said the price of wheat has risen by as much as 10-20 per cent amid the prospect of a possible delay in seeding the staple in October and a doubling of the grain support price to 4,000 rupees per 40 rupees kg is forecast by the Sindh government for the next growing season.

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He claimed wheat reserves were available on the open market to meet local needs, but profiteers speculated about possible delays in planting the crop following devastating floods in the country.

Releasing wheat from all four provinces at the same time can ensure stability in flour prices and help eliminate panic buying, he said.

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Similarly, the PBF chief expressed concern about the delay in opening Letters of Credit (LCs). Industrial production has stopped due to unavailability of parts, bank payments are not being made, operating costs are also becoming increasingly difficult to cover, which has increased fears of unemployment, he added.

Big companies in Pakistan rely on imported raw materials/parts to power our industries. In this regard, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Governor of the State Bank should immediately take note of the situation for outstanding letters of credit.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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