Sunday November 28, 2021

Punjab has enough wheat, flour stock: govt

November 22, 2021
Punjab has enough wheat, flour stock: govt

LAHORE: In response to news item based on an interview with chairman of Faisalabad Flour Mills Association, the provincial food department has denied that it has run out of wheat stocks in in most districts of Punjab, including Faisalabad.

In a statement, the food department spokesperson said: "The factual position is that as of November 20, 2021 Food Department has more than 3 Million MT wheat in stock which is sufficient based on the historical consumption pattern till April 2022. This is about 0.8 Million MT more than the stock that was available with Food Department Punjab last year on November 20,2020. In Faisalabad Division, the total wheat stock available with Food Department is 426,410 MT which is sufficient for almost 126 days. The demand for remaining days will be met by lifting wheat from wheat surplus districts."

The spokesperson denied that owners have been shutting down their mills indefinitely. He said: "In fact, 805 mills with 8,168 roller bodies are grinding and supplying flour in the market. The flour mill also purchase wheat from the private market. In the procurement season of CY2021, flour mills purchased almost 0.8 Million MT wheat.”

The spokesperson said: “The article incorrectly states that Punjab borrows Rs200-250 billion annually for purchase of wheat. The factual position is that in CY 2021, Punjab borrowed Rs166.3 Billion to procure 3.69 Million MT.” The spokesperson maintained: "The Wheat Release Policy was issued in consultation with Punjab Flour Mill Association. On October 9, 2021, a revised policy was notified after several meetings with the PFMA that met the demand of issuance of wheat on the basis of number of wheat bags per roller body and extraction ratio was reduced from 80:20 to 70:30.

The Food Department will hold consultations with PFMA on the revised set of demands that were communicated on November 19, 2021 to ensure uninterrupted supply of flour in the market.”

Shahbaz Ahmad adds from Faisalabad: When presented with the food department's position, Faisalabad Flour Mills Association chief Chaudhry Shafiq Anjum denied that any assurance has been given by the government to accept the demands of flour mill owners.

He alleged that the government was using a small group to misrepresent the real stake holders. He said that his position is based on the facts he stated in an interview given to The News and Jang a few days ago.

He said that the owners of flour mills were ready to extend full cooperation to get rid of the wheat crisis on a permanent basis, but it is also necessary to check the alleged corruption and mismanagement in the department.

He said no concrete progress is there so far on the demands made in writing to the government by the flour mills association. The flour millers reserve the right to stage strike and protest, he added.