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Sindh govt faces backlash from opposition over ‘artificial’ flour crisis

Sindh govt faces backlash from opposition over ‘artificial’ flour crisis

KARACHI: A day after the Sindh government pledged to bring down retail price of flour to Rs95 a kilo, opposition parties on Wednesday slammed the provincial administration for allegedly creating an artificial crisis of the commodity due to which the market price of the daily-use item reached to Rs160 a kilo.

The opposition parties alleged that wheat flour had become out of reach of poor people, while the provincial government was not taking any concrete measures to implement the official prices.

Opposition parties swing into action. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) wrote a letter to the chief secretary, Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) lawmaker Nand Kumar Golkani approached the Sindh Assembly while the Sindh United Party (SUP) announced province-wide protest demonstrations against the crisis of the staple food item.

However, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah strictly directed the provincial food department to ensure the availability of flour at Rs95 per kg in open market and Rs65 per kg at government-designated points/stalls.

Murad orders food dept to control prices in open market

Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Shaikh of the PTI asked the chief secretary to take effective measures to ensure that essential commodities such as flour were provided to people at reasonable prices at the earliest.

He claimed that the provincial government had created an artificial price hike in the province by not releasing wheat stocks to the flour mills.

Besides, the PTI leader said, district administration too was not taking any action against profiteers and hoarders.

“Even now, flour is being sold at Rs160 per kg in every market across the province,” he said and added that the provincial government was humiliating the less privileged in the name of providing subsidised flour.

The deputy parliamentary party leader of the GDA, Nand Kumar Gokalani, has submitted a call attention notice, an adjournment motion and a resolution to the Sindh Assembly Secretary on the continuous increase in flour prices.

Mr Gokalani told Dawn that people of the province were struggling for flour as it was currently being sold at Rs160 per kg in the open market across the province.

He said that the provincial government should asked the federal government a special package for Sindh and demand that uniform prices of flour be fixed throughout the country.

Meanwhile, SUP president Zain Shah announced that his party would organise demonstrations across the province on Thursday in protest over price hike and flour crisis.

He alleged that the provincial ministers had created an artificial crisis by “smuggling wheat flour to Afghanistan”.

CM orders strict control of prices

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday held a meeting with Food Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla and Chief Secretary Sohail Rajput and directed them to control flour prices in the open market.

The minister informed the CM that the food department was releasing 8,000 tonnes to 12,000 tonnes of wheat daily and added that sufficient wheat stocks was available to cater to the province’s requirement till the end of February.

The chief minister said that if the food department was releasing enough wheat then why the retail price of flour was not coming under control.

Minister Chawla added that the arrival of new crops would bring down the prices automatically.

The chief minister directed the chief secretary to strictly direct district administration to control prices of not only flour but other commodities such as vegetables, fruit, chicken, beef, mutton, eggs and pulses.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2023

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