Rawalpindi: The Punjab government has left public in the lurch and given free hand to flour mill owners to loot poor people with both hands as the millers have silently increased ‘atta’ prices during Eid holidays.
Now, a 20-kilogram ‘atta’ bag is selling at Rs1000 against Rs805 in retail shops for some days, thanks of Punjab government for seeing the whole drama with closed eyes. It merits mentioning here that, no ex-mill price of ‘atta’ has been fixed in the province for the first time in history which has allowed flourmill owners to sell the commodity according to their wish. It seems that there is no government writ.
The flourmill owners have increased normal ‘atta’ bag by Rs200 per 20-kilogram bag from Rs800 to Rs1000 and Rs1300 on 80-kilogram sack of fine ‘atta’. The fine ‘atta’ sack of 80 kilograms is selling at Rs4800 against Rs3500.
The poor people are not only facing skyrocketing prices but facing worst shortage of commodity as millers are not supplying ‘atta’ bags in open market shops. Some shopkeepers are selling ‘atta’ in black.
Punjab Flourmill Association (PFA) Vice Chairman Haji Muhammad Saeed told ‘The News’ that government is not providing them wheat. “We are purchasing wheat from open market on skyrocketing prices. We are purchasing 40-kilogram wheat at Rs1800 from open market against Rs1400 from government. How we could sell a 20-kilogram bag ‘atta’ at ex-mill price of Rs783, he said. The farmers have refused to sell wheat to the government,” he said.
He said that the crisis, which has been looming for the past of several months became severe. This ‘Atta’ crisis will be more severe in coming days if Punjab government does not take this issue seriously, he warned. He said that a 20-kilogram bag of ‘atta’ is selling at Rs1000 in retail shops. He has also warned that there would be shortage of flour and its prices would skyrocket in the coming weeks if the present polices continued.
Before Eid, a 20-kilogram bag was selling at Rs800 in government run utility stores and in open market shops. Now, a 20-kilogram bag of ‘atta’ is selling at Rs1000.
It may be noted that price of wheat and flour had always decreased during the wheat harvesting season. Short supply of wheat and flour had also never been a case during the procurement campaign. But, this year the unprecedented situation cropped up, thanks to the policies of provincial government.
District Food Department (DFD) Official Spokesman Ali Ahmed said that this time Punjab government not notified ex-mill price of ‘atta’. We have stopped wheat supply to flourmills. The flourmills are purchasing wheat from open market therefore they are selling ‘atta’ bag according to their wish, he said.
On the other hand, Punjab ‘Naanbais’ have announced to sell a ‘roti’ at Rs15 and a ‘naan’ at Rs20 if government not fixed ex-mill price.
Muthidda Naanbais Welfare Association (MNWA) President Muhammad Shafiq Qureshi said that PTI government has failed to address public grievances. Poor people are committing suicide due to poverty and unemployment across the country but our Prime Minister is only castling in the air. “We have decided to sell a ‘roti’ at Rs15 and a ‘Naan’ at Rs20 if government does not fix the ex-mill price,” he warned.
Talking to ‘The News’ people belonging to poor segment of society have strongly condemned PTI government saying poor people are dying due to poverty but our government is looking at the whole drama with closed eyes. “Before Eid, we purchased a 20-kilogram bag of ‘atta’ at Rs800 but now shopkeepers are selling the same bag at Rs1000, where is our government, they bemoaned.
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