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Centre-Sindh wheat concerns

One after another there have been squabbles between the PTI-led federal government and the PPP government in Sindh. This is a disturbing reminder of a deep political polarization that has marked the country for the past many years. This time the spat is over the release of wheat, which has raised the flour prices.

The federal government has claimed that in Punjab and KPK, flour mills were provided 40 kg of wheat at Rs 1950 and which they were selling at Rs 1100 per 20 kg bag. On the contrary the people of Sindh especially Karachi were purchasing 20 kg flour bag at Rs 1450 to 1500.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Maritime Affairs Mahmood Moulvi asserted that the Sindh government had not released wheat to flour mills with the result that its price in the province was rising constantly. He said if the Sindh government had not purchased enough quantity of wheat at the time of harvesting, it should inform the Centre so that it could be released from its reserves.

Wheat crisis is becoming normal in Sindh every year. Last year, the province witnessed increase in flour prices due to delay in release of wheat. The provincial government of Sindh releases wheat in September and October, so mill owners have to buy wheat from the open market to meet their needs. Due to the delays in the release of government wheat, hoarders and profiteers sell wheat at exorbitant prices.

Meanwhile, the Sindh Food Minister himself has admitted that the earliest release of wheat can stabilize its prices. So the question here is when early release reduces prices, why is it necessary for the Sindh government to release wheat on October 15 every year? In Sindh, wheat is harvested first but the provincial government releases it last due to which the commodity’s prices increases.

Whenever the country faces wheat crisis, the lack of seriousness further complicates the issue. Therefore, in the interest of the whole country, all political parties must come together immediately and work out mechanisms that will enable them to overcome their personal problems at least when it comes to the most pressing problems of the people.