Flour shortage ‘imminent’ as PFMA announces closure

Web Desk – May 18, 2020

LAHORE: The masses may be facing another round of flour shortage as the millers have announced closure of their units from today (Monday) in at least three provinces rejecting offers of dialogue by the Punjab food department.

Flour millers allege that administration in various Punjab districts is raiding mills to confiscate the wheat stock lying there for grinding and also sealing the premises “without any justification”.

Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA) central chairman Asif Raza and Punjab chief Rauf Mukhtar told a joint press conference here on Sunday that district administration particularly in Dera Ghazi Khan, Rahim Yar Khan and Sargodha districts was raiding mills and confiscating all the wheat stock lying there though the provincial government had allowed them to store grain equal to 72-hour grinding capacity of the relevant unit.

They claimed that the mills were also being sealed and cases registered against the owners.

Millers allege administration in districts confiscate stock meant for grinding

They said after failing to meet the procurement target the alleged corrupt officials of the food department were pressurising provincial authorities to pick the ‘lawful’ stocks of flour mills and even of farmers to attain the 4.5 million grain procurement target.

They wondered how the mills would function without keeping wheat stock as they were not left with grains enough for 48-hour grinding capacity and thus forced to announce closing down of the mills in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Mr Raza said they had even reached the offices of the food secretary but cancelled the meeting on receiving information of raid on flour mills in Multan.

He alleged that the government got unloaded the wheat various vehicles were carrying for the mills.

He taunted that the officials would announce confiscation of the wheat as if they had conquered Kashmir.

He cautioned that the government action was causing increase in the flour piece in the open market and warned of shortage of the product if the authorities did not stop campaign against lawful business.

He said they would now hold talks only with the food minister and the chief minister and not the secretary or director food as the latter’s ‘false’ promises had led the situation to this end.

Punjab Food Minister Abdul Aleem Khan, meanwhile, says that quota for flour mills will be increased soon after meeting the wheat procurement target of 4.5 million ton.

Claiming that it’s highest procurement target during the last three years, he said in a statement here on Sunday that so far 4.6 million ton wheat had been purchased.

He said the action against hoarders made it easier to achieving the wheat procurement target.

The success in achieving the procurement target would also impact positively the flour mills, he said as if assuaging the millers.

On the other hand flour price in the open market in the Punjab capital has registered Rs6 per 10kg bag increase, while the 20-kg bag has become dearer by Rs13. Loose flour is being sold at Rs45 per kg and the prices are likely to soar up after closure of the mills.

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