Punjab flour mills go on strike over raids, seizure of wheat
The flours millers in Punjab decided to go on strike over the raids conducted by the Food Department and district administration across the province for seizing the stored wheat, 24NewsHD TV channel reported.
According to All Pakistan Flourmills Association chairman Asim Raza, every unit had earlier been allowed by the Food Department to keep wheat stock for three days, the mills were being raided and the stock confiscated.
The flourmills do not have stock for even two days, he said, adding that the administration was seizing the wheat after a complete failure in the procurement drive.
Asim said the administration had also banned on buying wheat from open market and added, “We do business but no compromise on human respect is acceptable.”
Similarly, All Pakistan Flourmills Association (Punjab Zone) chairman Abdul Rauf Mukhtar said the strike call was a result of the Food Department’s approach as it neither is allowing procurement of wheat nor providing the government quota to them.
The wheat is currently available for Rs1,600 to Rs1,800 in the market, he said, adding that the government was asking them to buy wheat at a higher rate but supply flour at a lower price.
The decision to shut the flourmills could trigger a serious crisis as the flour price is already skyrocketing after the millers earlier increased the prices of 10 kilogramme and 20 kilogramme bags by Rs20.
As a result, the new prices of 10 kilogramme and 20 kilogramme bags are Rs420 and Rs825 respectively.
Commenting on the move, Abdul Rauf Mukhtar said the price hike was a result of increase in wheat price, adding that wheat from the government godowns was not being provided to the millers.
The wheat price in grain markets has reached Rs1,500 per 40-kg, he said, adding that there would have been no increase in the prices, if the Punjab Food Department had allowed them earlier to buy from the open market.
He maintained that the flourmills were providing flour at cheaper to the consumers after buying wheat at a higher rate from open market.
Earlier this month, 24NewsHD TV channel reported that the Punjab Food Department had suspended the supply of wheat from government godowns to flourmills in four cities of Punjab, making the price hike imminent.
The move was a result of ending the government quota for the flourmills of these cities, which will now buy wheat from open market. The mills in other 33 districts of Punjab are already buying wheat from private sources.
These flourmills were getting 10,000 tonnes of wheat on the intervention of Food Minister Aleem Khan on preferential basis.