Masses buying costliest flour in the country’s history

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Former President ICCI Shahid Rasheed Butt on Saturday said indecision by the authorities to fix wheat support price will compound the flour crisis in the country pushing helpless masses to the corner.

The country may go through a famine-like situation leading to civil turmoil if mismanagement continues in the wheat sector, he said.

Shahid Rasheed Butt said that responsible institutions should intervene to improve food security by reversing wrong decisions, new and failed experiments, doctored statistics, smuggling and speculation in the food market.

He said that authorities unnecessarily delayed imports and now they are reluctant to announce wheat support price despite the beginning of the sowing season in some parts of the country.

Indecision is making farmers nervous which can have disastrous consequences, he said, adding that a review in the wheat support price is the only option to calm the market.

Wheat support price was increased from Rs1200 to Rs1300 in 2014, it was increased to Rs1350 in 2019 and Rs1400 in March 2020.

The support price was not increased in proportion to the prices of inputs and cost of doing business. Now the government wants to purchase wheat at the old price while its policies have compelled masses to buy the wheat at a record price of Rs2500 per 40kg.

Presently the cost of the wheat crop is almost Rs1650 per 40kg, therefore, the government should hike support price to Rs1700 per maund which will also trigger inflation by almost six percent.

If the government wants to keep inflation in check then it should provide a real subsidy on urea which covers twenty percent cost of crop and reduce taxes on other inputs which will bring the price of wheat and flour down.

The business leader noted that per acre yield of wheat is dismally low as compared to regional countries at 25 to 26 maund per acre due to lack of interest on the part of policymakers.

Masses cannot get any relief and food security cannot be ensured unless the government stops new experiments and takes steps to provide relief to struggling farmers.

The area under wheat cultivation in Punjab has already reduced by 21 percent and it will go down advance if policies are not changed, he warned.