ISLAMABAD           -        Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday reiterated the government’s commitment to ensure smooth wheat and flour supply on controlled prices across the country at every cost.

The Prime Minister expressed these views while chairing an important meeting to review the availability of wheat and flour at control price in the country.

Later, addressing a press conference, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Sibli Faraz said that the Sindh government was responsible for the present rise in flour prices as it was not releasing its share of wheat in the market.

Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam accompanies him.

Senator Shibli Faraz said that in the market, the impression was being given that the flour prices were rising.

The minister said Punjab and Sindh had higher wheat production but the Sindh government had created a situation that was forcing the people of the province to buy expensive wheat and creating problems for the people.

He said that in the past, some people made illicit profiteering by such tactics and nurtured the system of sucking the blood of the people.

The profiteers were trying to discredit the government, he said adding that those responsible for artificial shortages would be dealt with severely, Shibli Faraz warned.

Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam said that the federal government is making all-out efforts to ensure uninterrupted supply of wheat and flour to common man in the country on affordable prices. Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Sibli Faraz also accompanied him.

He said that wheat was the main component of our staple food, adding that Pakistan was the 8th largest wheat producer of the world and provision of wheat, flour on proper prices would be ensured.

The minister also called upon the Sindh government to release wheat from its stocks in order to make the prices of the commodity sustainable in local markets.

The public sector of Sindh had procured about 1.25 million tons of wheat, he said adding that he had also written letters to the Sindh government to finalise its wheat release policy in order to bring the stability in the price of the commodity in local markets.

He said that cartelization as well as hoarding was the main reason of price hike of the commodity, adding that the provincial governments must take action against such cartels.

He said that Ministry of National Food Security and Research was taking all necessary measures for ensuring sustainable supply of wheat on controlled rates.

In order to overcome the supply and demand gap, he said that the government had allowed wheat import and hoarding of the commodity for creating artificial shortage would never be tolerated.

Fakhar Imam said that the Punjab government had started wheat release and all provinces were also collaborating with each other for ensuring smooth supply of wheat.

He added that the federal government was also strengthening their efforts to bring the stability.

He further informed that the federal government was also facilitating private sector imports to ensure timely import of the commodity.

Replaying to a question, he said that smuggling and hoarding were two methods for creating artificial shortage of any commodity, adding that identifying the cartelization was the responsibility of provinces.

The minister said that despite the abundant crop production, shortage of wheat was due to hoarding and cartelization.

Speaking on the occasion, Federal Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research Omer Hameed said that the shipments carrying imported wheat would be arrived in local markets by August 25.

He informed that about 1 million tons of wheat would be imported; besides Trading Corporation of Pakistan could also be import 1 to 2 million tons of wheat.

He said the imported wheat would be available at Rs1,780 per 40 kg.

Shibli said that most of the people in rural Sindh suffered from malnutrition as the Sindh government did nothing for the well-being of its people.

He said that the rains in Karachi had exposed the poor performance of the Sindh government.

He said that PPP had pushed the innocent people of province into the swamp of poverty with its pathetic policies.

The petroleum prices rose in Pakistan due to upward trend in the international market, he said adding that the situation had not returned to normalcy yet in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.