LAHORE - In addition to surplus supply at designated points, sale of flour through hundreds of trucks across the province helped the government overcoming the crises.

Besides taking steps for improving supply from flourmills, the government on Tuesday started giving subsidized wheat to grinding units, paving way for decreasing gap between prices of flour produced by flourmills and ‘chakki atta’.

Like the last couple of days, civil administration set up stalls at key points in different cities including Lahore besides sending truckloads of flour to congested localities for bridging gap between demand and supply.

The government increased the sale points to 484 besides sending truckloads of flour bags to 207 places across the province, normalizing the situation.

District administration and food department officials continued monitoring of supply of wheat to flourmills and sale of flour bags at designated points and through trucks across the province. 

“The situation is quite normal as people can get as much flour as they desire. You can sale fully loaded trucks with only few or no buyer at all. In Lahore alone, thousands of flour bags have been returned unsold”, said a district government officer.

Minister for Industries & Trade Mian Aslam Iqbal chaired a meeting of taskforce for price control at Chief Minister’s Office to review availability of flour and its prices. Minister for food Samiullah Chaudhry, Minister for Agriculture Nauman Akhtar Langrial, Secretary Industries & Trade, Secretaries of relevant departments and other officials participated in the meeting. Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners also participated in the meeting through video link.

Aslam Iqbal directed monitoring of wheat supply to flourmills, grinding and supply of flour in the market. He made it clear that flourmills would have to supply flour according to quota of wheat being supplied. He refuted report of any crises, saying surplus wheat was available. He said that the situation has arisen due to weakness of monitoring mechanism. Government has decided to supply 500kg subsidized wheat to the registered Chakkis of Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad.

He said that the process has already been started and chakki atta would be available at Rs42 to 45 per kg. He also directed devising mechanism to monitor the process of provision of wheat to the Chakkis and grinding. He also directed ensuring supply of flour at big stores. He directed ensuring availability of 10kg and 20kg flour bags instead of 15kg bags. He directed district administration to monitor sale of commodities at model bazaars.

Later minister for food addressed a press conference at Directorate General Public Relations to brief the media about the prevailing situation and government measures for tacking the issue.

Samiullah Chaudhry held opponents of Prime Minister Imran Khan and CM Buzdar responsible for the prevailing chaos, saying it was pre-planned but haters would fail to achieve the desired targets.

Flanked by Minister for Information Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan and Mian Aslam Iqbal, he said that the PTI regime had disbursed full payment to the growers for the first time in the history of the province. He said that the government procured every single grain of wheat from the farmer and that too in a transparent manner. Toll-free numbers were provided to the farmers where they could register their complaints regarding distribution of bags. He said that the government showed a responsible behaviour and procured wheat of its share whereas Sindh government failed to do so. He said that Sindh government claimed having 8.5 lac metric ton wheat reserves. But NAB found earth and sand in bags during raids on godowns. He said that the allegations of export of 7 lac metric ton wheat were against fact. He said that PTI government inherited 7.3 million metric ton wheat reserves. He said that the government sold the reserves in the local market. Now Sindh and KP have no reserves, he said, adding, CM Punjab has decided to provide 5000 metric ton wheat to KP on daily basis. “We will also provide wheat to Sindh and Balochistan if required”, he said. He said that today Punjab has 2.3 million metric ton wheat reserves.

Mian Aslam Iqbal said that the government has given Rs71 billion subsidy for provision of flour to the people at affordable price during current fiscal year. “Punjab is the only province which has bought wheat from the farmers during current season. Government provides flourmills wheat at Rs1375 per mound. Selling flour at high rate is injustice,” he said.

Out of 894 registered flourmills, he said, 814 were functioning presently. “No one will be allowed to fleece the masses”, he said.