KARACHI           -       Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, keeping in view growing flour prices in the market, has ordered all the divisional commissioners and DIGs to seal borders to stop wheat smuggling to other countries and also start operation against hoarders.

He took this decision while presiding over a meeting of the food department to review wheat stocks and flour prices all over the Sindh. The meeting was attended by provincial ministers, Hari Ram, Mukesh Chawla, Syed Nasir Shah, Advisor Murtaza Wahab, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, IG Sindh Mushtaq Maher, PSCM Said Jamal Abro, Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shahalwani, Adl IG Karachi Ghulam Nabi Memon, Secretary Food Laiq Ahmed. The divisional commissioners and DIGs of the divisions other than Karachi joined the meeting through video link.

Wheat stocks: Minister Food Hari Ram and Secretary Food Laiq Ahmed briefing the Chief Minister on wheat stocks as on July 9, 2020 said that 6.840 MMT of wheat was available in the country, including 4.283 MMT in Punjab, 1.262 Sindh, 0.065 KPK, 0.092 Balochistan and 1.138 PASSCO. At this the Chief Minister said that during the corresponding period of 2019 the wheat stocks of 7.758 MMTs were available. “This shows a shortfall of 0.918 MMT stocks this year,” he said.

Wheat Production: The Chief Minister was told that the national target of wheat production was set at 27.030 MMTs against which 25.457 MMTs was produced which showed a shortfall of 1.573 tons. At this, Murad Ali Shah said that Sindh had set a wheat production target of 3.8 MMT against which we produced 3.852 MMTs that showed a 0.052 MMT surplus while all other provinces failed to achieve their production target.

Availability & Consumption: The CM said that the consumption of wheat during 2020-21 had been estimated at 27.470 MMTS against which the wheat stock available in the country was 26.059 that showed a shortfall of 1.411 MMTs.

Mr Shah said that the shortfall was not so much and wheat/flour prices had started going up during these months when wheat crop had been harvested recently. “This is the result of wheat smuggling to other countries and we have to stop it with strict action,’’ he said and added that due to smuggling the wheat stocks in the private sector have run out in some provinces. That was why flour prices have increased there, he observed.

Prices in Sindh: The commissioners of Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana, Mirpurkhas and Shaheed Benazirabad told the Chief Minister that Atta prices were stable in their divisions. Secretary Food said that in Karachi flour mill atta price per has been recorded at Rs57 and chakki atta Rs64 to Rs65 per kg. In Hyderabad Rs56 -57 flour mills atta and Rs60 to Rs61 Chakki atta was available. Mirpurkhas Rs46 to Rs49 flour mill and Rs54 to Rs58 chakki atta per kg. Shaheed Benazir Rs50 to Rs52 flour mills and Rs55 Chakki atta. Sukkur Rs54-55 flour mill and Rs58 to Rs60 chakki atta and Larkana Rs51 flour mills and Rs55 chakki atta. He added that as compared to Sindh the atta prices were higher in Punjab.

The Chief Minister said that wheat stock in Sindh was enough that’s why prices were stable. However, he directed all the divisional commissioners and DIGs to start operation against the hoarders and also stop wheat movement. “Whenever, any truck of wheat is seen on the road it must be stopped until and unless it is cleared by the food department,” he said. He also directed commissioners to supervise the wheat stocks stored in their areas by the food department and keep their proper record. “I will not tolerate any mistake or mischief in this matter,” he said.

Commissioner Sukkur told the Chief Minister that his district administration had seized 27000 tons of wheat being smuggled to neighboring countries. At this the Chief Minister asked the DIG how many FIRS he has registered against the culprit, the DIG Sukkur replied 13 FIRs. It was pointed out that six food department officers had been suspended.

CM urged the federal government to assess the situation of wheat stocks and then take appropriate action to avoid atta crisis in the country.

Minister Information Syed Nasir Shah and Advisor Law Murtaza Wahab just after the meeting briefed the media about the decision taken in the meeting held under Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.

The Chief Minister also decided that the wheat seized from the smugglers or hoarders would be added in the stocks instead of making it case property. “If it is made case property then the wheat would be infested with weevil till the decision of the case,” he concluded.