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January 20, 2020

PM’s aide blames mafia for ‘artificial’ flour shortage

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January 20, 2020

By News Desk

SIALKOT: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Sunday a mafia was creating artificial shortage of wheat and flour by purchasing the commodities from local markets in a bid to whiten their black money.

Addressing a news conference here on Sunday, she said 368 sale points and 181 truck points had been set up to ensure smooth supply of wheat flour to the people, adding indiscriminate action was being taken against elements involved in hoarding of flour.

She said more than 25,000 tonnes of wheat was being provided to some 814 flour mills in Punjab on daily basis and added the government was successfully breaking the nexus of the mafia creating artificial flour crisis. The special assistant said the government was taking stern legal action against stockists, hoarders and profiteers, “as the war against price-hike has entered in its final stages”.

Replying to a question, the PM’s aide said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government would complete its constitutional five-year tenure with the active cooperation of its political allies. “There has been a major development between the negotiating teams of the government and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P),” she said, adding the government would soon give good news to the people.

She also said the government was taking national economy towards the goal of economic stability. She added Prime Minister Khan had successfully started implementation of Rs 162 billion mega development package for Karachi, saying the metropolis once used to be the “City of Lights”, and now these lights would start brightening Karachi again.

The special assistant further said Sardar Usman Buzdar would stay as Punjab Chief Minister and the PTI government would complete is tenure. While Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Khusro Bakhtiar said on Sunday the prevalent wheat crisis will be solved by Monday (today), as the government currently had 4 million tonnes of wheat in its stock.

Addressing a press conference, he said Sindh government’s “late lifting” of wheat from Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) had resulted in the artificial crisis in the province, adding the transport strike in the province made matters worse.

“Sindh did not procure even a grain of wheat this year, whereas their target was 700,000 tonnes,” he said. “The National Logistics Cell (NLC) has given 9,000 tonnes of wheat to the Sindh government only for Karachi and today they will provide 10,000 tonnes [of wheat].”

He said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was receiving 2,000 tonnes of wheat daily, while Sindh was only lifting 150 tonnes. The minister said as flour mills will open from Monday, wheat prices will start declining.

Bakhtiar, however, added about 40,000 metric tons of wheat was smuggled to Afghanistan per month and special measures were also made to check this smuggling to keep the supply smooth in local markets.

He said a special helpline was also established to monitor the wheat supply in local markets and wheat procurement targets were also enhanced from six million to eight million tonnes to keep the strategic reserves for local requirements.