Rising flour prices unsettle residents of the Twin Cities

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Islamabad: Residents of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad have been facing a sharp rise in flour prices for the past week as a 20 kilogram bag (normal quality) of flour fetches Rs1300 against Rs1100 on the open market. The millers are making an excuse that the Punjab government has stopped supplying subsidized wheat from April 30 and they have to buy private wheat from the open markets at skyrocketing rates, hence the prices of the flour rose for a week.

Deputy Director (Food) Muhammad Ali’s official spokesman told ‘The News’ that they had halted the government’s wheat supply quota for millers. “We supply 40 kilograms of wheat to millers at Rs1950, but millers buy wheat privately at Rs2450 per 40 kilograms in open markets now. The Punjab government has provided government quota of wheat till April 30 to millers,” he said. He admitted that there is no fixed rate of bags of flour for a week. “We have taken up this issue to take strict measures against profiteers and hoarders,” he warned.

All senior officials of the Pakistan Flour Mills Association (Punjab) claimed that they were buying wheat in the open markets at skyrocketing prices from May 1. “How could we sell flour at cheaper prices and how could we continue our business at a loss,” they claimed.

An investigation by ‘The News’ has revealed that traders here in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad sell three types of sacks of flour. The Punjab government has set the ex-factory price of a 20 kilogram sack of flour at Rs 1,070 and allowed traders to sell it at Rs 1,100. Now, from May 1, a quality sack of flour normal 20 kg flour sells at Rs1300 while standard medium grade at Rs1450 and a bag of fine grade flour at Rs1600.

Rawalpindi Division Commissioner Noor-ul-Amin Mengal has also set up checkpoints at different locations to monitor the smuggling of wheat into Afghanistan. He strictly warned relevant officers to adopt zero tolerance in this issue to stop wheat smuggling to other regions.

Residents have called on Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz Sharif to address the issue immediately otherwise flour prices will rise further in the coming days. Already people are facing skyrocketing prices on all items, how could they buy flour at skyrocketing rates, they said.

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