Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz on Monday said that the Sindh government was responsible for the present increase in flour prices as it was not releasing its share of wheat in the market. Sindh government, on the other hand, has rubbished such allegations and blamed the federal government for being incompetent to control wheat and flour prices.
Addressing a press conference along with Minister for Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam, the information minister maintained that in the market, the impression was deliberately being given that the flour prices were rising. He said that Punjab and Sindh had higher wheat production but the Sindh government had created a situation that was forcing people to purchase wheat at higher rates.
Shibli Faraz said that in the past, some people made illicit profiteering by such tactics and nurtured the system that has troubled the people of the country. The profiteers were trying to discredit the government, he said, warning that those responsible for artificial shortages would be dealt with severe consequences.
The senator also pointed out that most people in rural Sindh suffered from malnutrition as the provincial government did nothing for the well-being of its people, the minister said that the rains in Karachi had exposed the poor performance of the Sindh government.
The federal minister went on to add that PPP had pushed the innocent people of the province into the swamp of poverty with its ineffective policies, and held it responsible for unprecedented wheat and flour prices.
The petroleum prices rose in Pakistan due to an upward trend in the international market, he said, lamenting that the situation had not returned to normalcy yet in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The incumbent government is facing criticism for being unable to maintain low prices of wheat. Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting on the availability of wheat and its price control measures on Monday. According to a video message of PM Office Media Wing, the meeting was attended by Minister for National Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam, Minister for Industries Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood and high officials. The provincial chief secretaries also attended the meeting through a video link.
Despite Prime Minister Imran Khan’s interest in controlling prices of wheat, wheat flour, and sugar, the rates have been increasing constantly.
The federal government’s decision on import and export of wheat and sugar has a direct bearing on prices in the domestic market. The PTI government has failed to ensure the availability of sugar and wheat at affordable prices, particularly for the low-income groups.
PBS reported that wheat prices increased by 28.5% in July over a year ago. Prices of wheat flour surged 18.5% and other wheat products by 16% in July over a year ago, according to the PBS.
After exporting wheat, notes The Express Tribune, leading Pakistan’s English Language newspaper, the PTI government is now in the process of importing 1.5 million tons of wheat that will cost the national exchequer a minimum $480 million at current international market prices.
Sindh government won’t release wheat, Spokesperson
Responding to the accusations of the federal minister, Murtaza Wahab, Sindh government’s official spokesperson, asserted that the Centre and the Punjab government are blaming Sindh in order to hide their incompetence.
وفاقی حکومت نے آج مطالبہ کیا ہے کہ سندھ حکومت گندم کی ترسیل شروع کرے لیکن سندھ حکومت کے ترجمان مرتضیٰ وہاب نے انکار کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ ہم ایک اور بحران پیدا کرنے کا باعث نہیں بننا چاہتے pic.twitter.com/UY9zUdlDHB
— Hamid Mir (@HamidMirPAK) August 3, 2020
“Wheat is still being transported from Sindh to other provinces,” Wahab said, adding that he was surprised to see that “even sensible federal ministers are talking nonsense.”
Questioning why the Punjab government is not taking action against the hoarders, Wahab said that the Punjab ministers “should end partnerships with hoarders and take action against them”. “Federal ministers should go to Punjab and review the performance of their government, and then make allegations,” he added.
It is yet to be seen whether the government shall finally exercise its authority and maintain the wheat and flour prices or not. GVS learnt from inside sources that the federal government is committed to make sure to keep the mafias at bay.