LAHORE - The flour millers on Friday demanded the government to keep wheat support price freezed at Rs1200 per 40kg as any further jump in the rate will result in a new wave of price-hike in the country.

Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA) Founders Group chairman Bilal Soofi, addressing a press conference here on Friday, observed that the proposed increase in wheat prices, as demanded by the growers’ association, will lift flour prices to Rs1000 per 20kg bag.

Proposed increase will make it impossible for masses to even buy basic necessities like flour. He claimed Pakistan had become self-reliant in wheat production, as it was not only producing for its own requirement but also exporting wheat and wheat products. Increase in the wheat support price had already destroyed flour milling industry set up in the country with an investment of billion of rupees. PFMA leaders claimed wheat prices in Pakistan were already high from the international market and further increase would cut the country from rest of the world market.

He underscored that the government decision to increase wheat support price would neither benefit farmers nor consumers. It would increase wheat flour price sharply, he estimated.

He suggested that if the government wanted to support farmers it should provide them agriculture inputs, including fertiliser, pesticides and diesel, at subsidised rates. He pointed out that Pakistan had the highest wheat price in the world, despite the fact that the country had surplus wheat stocks.

He suggested giving farmers 30% direct subsidy on all inputs. This will reduce cost of wheat and will lessen poverty in rural areas while on other hand atta prices will come within affordable limits in urban areas.

Dr Bilal Sufi opposed the farmers demand to fix support price at Rs1600 per 40 kg and said atta price will go up nearing Rs1000 per 20 kg while exports will be totally stopped as international market is still below Rs1200. He said that due to hike in support price wheat products will not go outside the country rendering foreign exchange loss to the exchequer and closure of 70% industry. He said that during last 5 years atta rate has been increased by almost Rs500 and wheat’s rate by Rs800 per 40 kg which is not a good thing for consumers.

The millers appealed to prime minister not to go for increase in support price as it will add to the miseries of people, govt, industry and farmers themselves as after announcement of increase all inputs will increase and nobody will get anything.