LAHORE – Pakistan Flour Mills Association central chairman Naeem Butt has asked the government to cut wheat prices to the level of international rates to improve the almost stagnant exports of the commodity.
“The export is not possible until linking the local wheat prices to that of the international market,” PFMA central chairman said while addressing a press conference.
He further said that huge stock is floundering wheat exports as prices in the world market remain under pressure.
Besides, he said, Russian states and India have taken over the Afghanistan market from Pakistan, causing a glut of wheat here.
International wheat prices are around Rs2,200-2,300 per 100 kilogram and the rates still do not become feasible even after adding subsidy. By contrast, the provincial governments are supplying wheat to flour millers at Rs3,340 per 100kg bag.
PFMA Punjab chairman Iftikhar Mattu said that there is no way in sight to dispose of last year’s wheat stocks.
“We have been asking the government to reduce wheat prices so that consumers could benefit from cheap flour, but it didn’t pay heed,” he said.“Punjab should cut prices to boost provincial consumption”.
Iftikhar Mattu said the government did not consider global trend while fixing procurement price at Rs1,350 per 40kg. As demand for flour was already normal, so majority of mills in Punjab were not operating, he said.
PFMA Punjab chairman further said that in January, the federal government set wheat export target of 1.
2 million tons by offering transport rebate from $45-55 per ton.
Despite extending date for exports, the aim to facilitate millers as well as to earn foreign exchange could not be materialised.
He said that Punjab was allowed to export 800,000 tons with a transport rebate of $55 per ton, while Sindh was tasked 400,000 tons with a rebate of $45.
He said that with the new wheat harvest nearing in both Sindh and Punjab, the country already has over five million tons in stocks.
Iftikhar Mattu observed that of the total wheat stocks, Punjab holds 3.5m tons and the Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) 1.5-1.6 million tons while Sindh has 500,000 tons of wheat stocks.
PFMA former chairman Dr Bilal Sufi, talking to The Nation, said that the new Sindh crop will find its way into the market at the end of March, followed by Punjab crop in April.
He said Pakistan is likely to harvest a wheat crop of 25 million tons this season as favourable weather and high procurement price lured growers to produce more.
Quoting statistics, Dr Bilal Sufi said that only 247 tons of wheat were exported during July-December 2015-16, fetching just $66,000. The exports dropped to 10,441 tons worth $3 million in 2014-15 from 20,037 tons of $7 million in last fiscal year.
Source: The Nation
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