Pakistan Reader# 507, 11 January 2023
On 10 January, the price of wheat and flour recorded a drop after reports of an increase in the grain quota of all the flour mills in Punjab by the government. According to Dawn, the rate of wheat fell from Rs5,400 per maund to Rs4,200 per maund in Lahore and Rs4,300 in other markets of the province. This drop came after the food department announced an increase in the quota of wheat for the flour mills from 21,000 tonnes to 26,000 tonnes per day at the directions of the chief minister. Additionally, the government also announced monitoring of the movement of flour and other wheat products from the mills gates up to the wholesale dealers and retailers to check artificial hoarding of the products.
Reverse in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh
On the same day, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government state that flour prices recorded an extraordinarily high due to the high wheat support price announced by the Sindh government. The provincial food minister said, “Sindh’s unusual move to take wheat support price to Rs4,000 per 40kg after Punjab and KP fixed it at Rs3,100 is abnormally driving flour rate up in our province as Punjab’s growers are sending their produce to Sindh for better payments.”
Meanwhile, the Sindh government increased the wheat quota of the flour mills to bring wheat flour prices down to Rs95 per kg from Rs150 per kg. According to the Provincial Information Minister, “At 1,100 sale points in the province, wheat flour will be available at Rs65 per kg while it will be sold for Rs95 per kg at the retail shops in a few days, as flour mills quota is being increased.” He claimed that while the whole country was facing a flour crisis “prices were controlled only in Sindh where flour was made available at Rs65 per kg by the provincial government.”
The federal and provincial governments are at odds
The flour crisis in Pakistan has spiralled out of control in recent weeks. However, the problem has been looming in the country for several months as concerns were raised since the last domestic wheat harvest fell far short of expectations and the domestic consumption requirements. The situation was worsened by the floods that caused massive damage to the wheat stocks in several regions. The crisis was left to spiral out of control as the federal and provincial governments took cosmetic measures to address the issue. The divide between the federal and provincial governments has aggravated the food crisis in the country. This divide not only restricted the authorities concerned to providing relief to the people but the federal government failed to foresee the crisis while the provinces failed to take timely administrative actions to control profit-rigging within their jurisdictions.
Manzoor Ali, “KP blames Sindh for flour price hike,” Dawn, 11 January 2023
“Spiralling flour crisis,” Dawn, 11 January 2023
“Increase in mills quota: Wheat, flour prices start falling in Punjab,” Dawn, 11 January 2023
“Sindh increases wheat quota to check flour prices,” The News International, 11 January 2023