ISLAMABAD            -        Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam on Monday reaffirmed the state’s commitment for ensuring smooth wheat and flour supply on controlled prices across the country.

Addressing a press conference, ac­companied by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Sibli Faraz, he said that the federal government, in col­laboration with the provincial govern­ments, was making all-out efforts to en­sure uninterrupted supply of wheat and flour to common man in the country on affordable prices.

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

The minister also called upon the pro­vincial government of Sindh 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 Sindh govern­ment to finalise its wheat release policy in order to bring stability in the price of the commodity in local markets.

He said that cartelisation was the main reason of the price hike along with hoarding 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 Punjab Government had started wheat release and all provinces were also collaborat­ing with each other for ensuring smooth supply of wheat, adding that federal government was also strengthening their efforts to bring stability.

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

Replying to a question, he said that smuggling and hoarding were two methods for creating artificial shortage of any commodity, adding that identi­fying the cartels was the responsibil­ity of provinces. The minister said that despite the abundant crop production, shortage of wheat was due to hoarding and cartelisation.

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