The cost of flour has reached Rs150 per kilogram in Rawalpindi’s open market as the price of wheat has reached Rs5,000 per maund in the grain markets.
The price of a 15 kg bag of flour in the garrison city is Rs2,250. In the city, an ex-mill red flour bag costs Rs. 11,650, while an ex-mill fine flour bag now costs Rs. 13,00.
According to the Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA), the official wheat quota was insufficient and wheat was being sold in the open market for Rs5,400 per maund.
The city’s Naanbai Association has issued a warning that if the prices are not brought under control, they will be forced to increase the price of a roti by Rs. 5 once more.
Similar to this, the price of whole-grain chakki flour in Lahore has increased to an all-time high of Rs145 per kg.
In addition, different brands of flour are offered in the provincial capital for Rs130 per kg.
The decreased government releases of wheat, according to Lahore’s flour millers, are to blame for the price increase.
The shortage of grains and the high price of wheat support, according to chakki owners, are to blame for the rise in Punjab’s flour prices.
According to Khaleeq Arshad, a former PFMA chairman, the Punjab food department was only releasing about 21,000 to 2,000 tonnes of wheat. He continued that there had been very little wheat released by the government in Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Sindh. According to him, there aren’t enough grains available on the market to meet demand.
Additionally, he stated that despite having full knowledge of the current market conditions, the government had delayed the import of wheat.
Other factors contributing to the price increase, he noted, include wheat flour smuggling and black marketing.
Arshad emphasized that in addition to these regional issues and internal mismanagement, the Russia-Ukraine war had made it challenging to import wheat.
Large amounts of wheat were previously imported by Pakistan from Ukraine, but the current conflict has disrupted this supply line.
The government was not allowing the private sector, which was significantly more effective than its agencies, to import wheat, the former PFMA chairman added.
In response to a question, he stated that due to the shortage of grains, the price of wheat flour had reached Rs2,000 per 15-kg sack in various markets throughout the province.
Limited wheat supplies are being released by all provincial governments in anticipation of high demand during the holy month of Ramazan, which would fall in March before the new crop is harvested.
Owner of an atta chakki, Muhammad Liaqat Ali, claimed that while their peak-hour electricity rates had reached Rs70-Rs80 per unit, they were purchasing wheat for between Rs4,900 and Rs5,000 per maund.
He continued, “Such high input costs have necessitated us raising whole-wheat chakki flour rates.
He expressed dissatisfaction that the local government was targeting chakki owners rather than focusing on the crucial problem of grain supply.
He asserted that despite numerous price increases, the profit margin of chakki owners had decreased, even though the price of whole-wheat chakki flour had reached Rs145 per kg.
The cost of wheat has doubled in the nation since the PTI government was overthrown in April of last year.
Wheat was exchanged at a rate of Rs 2,200 per maund in all of the province’s markets back then.
However, due to political factors and administrative shortcomings of the provincial governments, that rate has now risen to Rs5,000.
Independent experts and business titans asserted that the Sindh government’s early announcement of the Rs4,000 wheat support price had influenced market sentiment.
For political reasons and the impending general elections, other provinces had also followed suit.
Although it is still unclear who will gain economically from this political choice, the urban middle class has been crushed by unprecedented inflation as a result of this decision.
with additional thoughts from our Rawalpindi correspondent