Lahore: The wheat price has registered a sharp increase of more than 300 percent in last ten years from Rs400 per 40kg to Rs1300 per 40kg, registering a jump of over Rs2,250/40kg.
Presently the wheat-rate in Pakistan is highest in the world as staple food is available at Rs900 per 40 kg in the world market–more than Rs400 costly as compared to the world market. Even in the neighbouring country of India the wheat support has been announced at Rs950 per quintal.
According to experts, one of the key reasons for the food-inflation remains the government’s decision to increase the wheat support price by more than 300 per cent in last 10 years that indeed benefited big landowners, but proved a blow for the majority of people, especially belonging to the poor and fixed income groups.
They said that huge rise in wheat support price has increased flour price by mounting speculative pressure on price that has already gotten close to alarming proportion for a majority of population. They said that hike in price has worked as incentive for hoarding, making flour market even more volatile.
Economists and financial experts have also questioned the past government criminal move of pushing the wheat support price to Rs1200 per 40 kilogram from 425 rupees in the early 2008. They said that during last 5 years atta rate has been increased by almost Rs500 and wheat’s rate by Rs800 per 40kg which is a huge burden on helpless consumers.
They appealed to prime minister to reduce support price as it will add to the miseries of people, govt, industry and farmers themselves. Empirical evidence suggests that a 10 percent increase in the support price of wheat increases the general price level by three percent, Dr. Ashfaq Hassan remarked. He said that that more than 300 percent increase in the support price of wheat has pushed food prices up by 50 percent.
The support price mechanism has long lost its utility and remains beneficial only for big landowners, he said and added that today domestic wheat rates have surpassed international prices. Pakistan Flour Mills Association Former Chairman Dr Bilal Sufi has also expressed his deep concern over rising prices of wheat only in Pakistan, damaging the flour milling industry severely.
Dr Sufi said that in 2006 wheat price in Pakistan was Rs 415 per 40 kg and at that time international price was equal to Rs500 per 40 kg and over a period of 10 years now in 2016 the wheat price in Pakistan is Rs1300/per 40 kg.
Dr Sufi said that now international market has gone down to almost half but the Pakistani wheat price is constantly increasing, rendering the flour mills in a miserable condition, causing closure of about 700 flour mills in the country.
It is unfortunate that the govt taken decision to raise support price without taking the industry and general public on board who are the prime stakeholders. He suggested the govt to give a generalised subsidy to milling industry by reducing sale rate of wheat enabling consumers to get cheaper flour and making industry competitive.
He suggested that if the government wanted to support farmers it should provide them agriculture inputs, including fertiliser, pesticides and diesel, at subsidised rates. He pointed out that Pakistan had the highest wheat price in the world, despite the fact that the country had surplus wheat stocks. He said that due to hike in support price wheat products are not going outside the country rendering foreign exchange loss to the exchequer and closure of 70% industry.
Source: The Nation