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Flour price shoots up as wheat crisis in Sindh deepens

KARACHI: Shortage of wheat continues to fuel rise in flour prices across the province in the absence of effective price control mechanism and insipid government response to the deepening crisis.

On Thursday, flour millers raised prices by Rs2 per kg on various varieties of flour. Just two days before on Tuesday, they had raised prices by Re1 to Rs3 per kg.

According to the millers, price of flour (No. 2.5) was raised to Rs48 per kg from Rs46 per kg on Tuesday while rate of fine flour and super fine flour (maida) was increased to Rs52.50 per kg from Rs50 per kg.

The new rate of 10kg flour bag has been fixed at Rs485 as against Rs465 on Tuesday.

Over the past 35 days, millers have increased flour prices cumulatively by up to Rs8 per kg in the absence of an effective price control mechanism of city government and will of Sindh government to probe reasons behind sudden price hike and wheat stocks available at flour mills.

The flour millers attribute suspension in arrival of wheat from interior of Sindh to the city as the main reason behind rise in grain prices in the open market. “Wheat is hardly available in the open market. Traders, who have grain stocks, are selling for Rs4,550 per 100kg bag, up by Rs200 from Rs4,350 per 100kg bag on Tuesday,” said a miller, adding that a month back it was sold at Rs4,000. In the third week of May, a wheat bag was available at Rs3,500.

He said the Sindh government would release its wheat by September-October and till then the millers would have to procure wheat from the open market to meet their needs.

The food department’s officials posted at various check-posts are not allowing trucks laden with wheat to reach Karachi.

The Sindh government has so far procured 1.2 million tonnes of wheat from growers from March 26 to date against its target of 1.4m tonnes for this season.

NAB arrests contractor for pilfering 11,403 tonnes wheat

SUKKUR: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Sukkur, has arrested a contractor on charges of misappropriating 11,403 tonnes wheat he was hired to transport from Ghotki to Karachi.

NAB officials said the misappropriated wheat was worth Rs300 million. The accused identified as Haresh Kumar who was owner of two flour mills was awarded the contract in 2018 for transporting wheat to Karachi. He lifted 48.770 tonnes wheat from godowns in Ghotki and pilfered 11,403 tonnes on way to Karachi, they said.

They said the accused was also involved in hoarding as a huge quantity of grain was found stocked up in his flour mills during raid. Search was under way for the arrest of an associate of the accused, Mohammad Ibrahim, who also owned a flour mill, said the officials.

NAB officials produced the accused in the district and sessions court which remanded him for 14 days in judicial custody.

Meanwhile, Khangarh assistant commissioner Adeel Sohu raided 15 warehouses in Khanpur Mahar and recovered 15,000 wheat bags during ongoing crackdown against the grain hoarders in Ghotki district.

The food department seized the wheat bags and sealed the warehouses where wheat had been hoarded by traders for profiteering, said officials.

The warehouses were owned by Anand Kumar, Satiwan Das, Chandar Ban, Ghansham Das, Kailash Kumar, Roshan Lal, Washu Ram, Sanjay Kumar, Vijay Kumar, Manoj Kumar and others, said officials.

Mr Sohu said that the action had been taken against the hoarders on the directives of Ghotki deputy commissioner. Raids would continue against the hoarders, he warned.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2020

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