ISLAMABAD - People are facing a shortage of daily-use items, particularly flour and sugar, at outlets of the Utility Stores Corporation in different parts of the country.

The government had provided subsidy on basic food commodities including flour, edible oil, sugar, rice and pulses at USC outlets in a bid to provide relief to the poor segment of the society. However, people are facing problems due to shortage of two basic commodities, flour and sugar. Prices of both commodities are reduced as compared to the open market, which resulted in a higher demand and shortage of the commodities.

An official of the Utility Stores Corporation admitted that flour and sugar were short at various outlets in the country. He said that they were making arrangements to ensure the availability of these two items. He said that demand of flour and sugar had increased manifold due to the reduced price. The USC administration was purchasing wheat from Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) in order to reduce the ongoing wheat flour shortage in next couple of days, said the official.

Ministry of Industries and Production, last week, had directed the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) to provide sugar to the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) at a reduced rate to ensure its provision to the consumers at Rs70 per kilogram. The Ministry of Industries and Production had written a letter to PSMA in the pursuance of the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) order. An official of the ministry informed that PSMA should provide sugar at Rs63 per kg to USC, so it could sell the commodity at Rs70 per kg to the consumer on the direction of IHC.

Apart from the USC outlets, flour price was available at higher prices in open market throughout the country. A high-level meeting was held at the Finance Division on Wednesday with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair to review the wheat and flour situation in the country and the causes for recent increase in wheat and flour prices, especially in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Balochistan.

Following the discussion, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research was asked to prepare and bring up a summary in the light of discussion on the subject to the ECC so that the matter could be discussed at the cabinet level for appropriate decisions to ensure wheat and flour across the country throughout the year at a reasonable price.