ISLAMABAD - The Federal Government has accepted the flour millers demand to reduce interest rate on loans provided to them by banks and would most likely accept millers other demand of allowing them to export wheat flour and other wheat-based food products, in the coming days. The flourmills had demanded from the government to bring down the interest rate for them to one digit (below 10 per cent). They had demanded this taking the plea that it was impossible for them to operate at a high interest rate and they were unable to procure wheat from the farmers due to non-availability of funds. Well-placed sources told TheNation that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture had accepted their demand of reducing mark-up rate and was going to write a letter to State Bank of Pakistan for the purpose. Sources said that the millers in a meeting with the Ministry officials had argued that Pakistan had ample wheat production this year that was much more than the countrys demand, so they should be allowed to export the wheat flour and other byproducts that would help in generating revenue for the country. The millers had claimed that after meeting the countrys demand, 11 million tons of wheat were extra that could be exported in raw or finished form. According to official sources, that figure was not true as the preliminary estimates showed 23.3 million tons wheat production in the country. They said that as per preliminary estimates it was 1.3m tons extra than the total demand of 22m tons in the country. Anyway they said that the final estimates were still to be evaluated and if there would be a wheat production more than 24m tons, the government would most likely allow the millers to export their products. When approached, Joint Secretary Food, Seerat Asghar, said that presently the govt had not taken any decision on the issue and had written to the Punjab Govt to provide the wheat production figures. Answering to a question he said that the situation was totally different from 2007 when previously wheat export decision was made. He said that at that time the price of the product was lower in Pakistan than what was in the international market, so the country had to face the consequences of the decision. Presently, he said, The price of the product in local market is higher than its value in the international market, so even if it is allowed to be exported that might not be causing any trouble for the country. He further said, There is no harm in allowing export of wheat-based food products, provided the wheat production exceeds 24m tons. Ibrahim Mughal, President Agri Forum Pakistan said that his organization was also not against the export of wheat byproducts but he said that the government must wait till the end of May to take such kind of a decision. He said that Ministrys evaluation system was not reliable and at least one more month was required to know the exact figure. He said that the government should take such decision only in case it achieves its wheat procurement target. He further said that Punjab Government had increased its procurement target up to 6 million tons that was 4m tons earlier. Sindh Food Department was supposed to procure 1.5m tons of wheat and PASSCO was responsible to procure 1.5m tons as well. Mughal said, There is an accumulative procurement target of 9 million tons, provided all the departments achieve it, then go for export, otherwise it could prove disastrous for the country.