Punjab responsible for flour crisis in KP, insist dealers.

PESHAWAR -- Though the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has blamed flour crisis in the province on its counterpart in Sindh, the local traders disagree and insist that Punjab is responsible for the issue and whenever it withdraws the ban on the inter-province movement of its wheat, the flour price will normalise.

On Jan 11, KP food minister Mohammad Atif claimed that the flour's price went up in the province after the Sindh government set the wheat support rate higher than the one announced by the Punjab government.

Flour dealers in KP rejected the minister's assertion and said the issue had nothing to do with the wheat support price fixed by Sindh.

'Sindh's wheat support price is for the next crop. I don't know who gave Atif this idea [of blaming support price for flour crisis],' a member of the flour traders' body told Dawn.

They say if Punjab allows inter-provincial movement of wheat, prices will drop next day

He said KP won't blame Punjab for the flour crisis as both provinces were ruled by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and its allies.

The trader said there was no wheat shortage in the country.

'Open the Attock border [withdraw the ban on wheat transportation from Punjab to other provinces] and you will see the flour price drop the very next day,' KP Flour Dealers Association chairman Haji Waheed told Dawn.

According to Mr Waheed, understanding the issue doesn't involve rocket science.

'Look, Punjab is the main wheat supplier and when it bans wheat movement, the market will have a shortage. Normally, a 20kg flour bag sells for Rs1,500 in Punjab but costs us [KP residents] Rs1,800 when Section 144 [restriction on movement] is imposed,' he said.

Mr Waheed said if 'somebody' had bribed officials of Punjab's food and police departments and paid around Rs0.2 million for a truck with 100 bags for transportation outside Punjab, the price would go up to Rs2,000 per bag.

He added that transportation costs would take the bag's rate to Rs2,100 for wholesalers only. 'Retailers will charge people at least Rs200 per bag, so the 20kg bag purchased at Rs1,800 will reach the market at Rs2,300,' he said.

The dealer body's chairman said not even a single cargo ship of wheat had reached the country since April 2022...

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