Flour millers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have out-rightly rejected the increase in wheat support prices from Rs 1050 to Rs 1200 per 40/kg as announced by Economic Co-ordination Committee, termed that decision would directly affected the poor masses, by increasing the price of flour across the country.
The Economic Co-ordination Committee had proposed increase in wheat support prices at Rs 1200 from Rs 1050 in its emergency meeting last week chaired by Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh. The ECC increased the support price from coming wheat crop to Rs 1200 per 40/kg from Rs 1050 per 40/kg on the recommendation of the Ministry of Food Security, to facilitate and encourage wheat growers.
“This is not a way to extend subsidy to farmers by putting burden on poor masses, said Naeem Butt, Chairman All Pakistan Flour Mills Association KP while talking to this scribe on Monday. “We had already great concerns over the previous wheat prices of Rs 1050, but government made an Rs 150 per 40/kg increase in it, which was acceptable and anti-masses move, he added.
Butt further said that the government should extend subsidy to small farmers on fertilisers, pesticide, urea, and other agriculture outputs instead of creating difficulties for poor working class. Though, he said the real impacts of new wheat prices will seen in next season as almost government and private flour mills purchased wheat last month. He said that wheat stock is available in a surplus quantity with additional 20 to 30 tons additional as per demand of the country.
APFMA chairman said that government had always pushed the growers to increase production of wheat with high quality, but it was never contain prices of wheat to provide benefits to poor masses. He termed that the government decision was more and less reflection of political motivated, to regain their vote bank in rural areas of the country by extending such incentives to poor farmers.
Atleast the government, he demanded, should retain old prices of Rs 1050 per 40/kg, if not bring down in it. He further said that subsidy should be extended on fertilisers, pesticides, urea and other agriculture outputs instead of putting burden on poor farmers.
Anees Ashraf, a flour miller also expressed the increase in wheat prices, saying that government had taken decision to extend benefits to few people regardless the miseries of the poor masses. He said that decision was definitely affected the poor masses, when the flour rates would soar with ratio of wheat support prices.
He said that Roti is now available at Rs 6 per 130/kg, which might be reached at Rs 10 as price was not affordable for poor people. He further said, “It was an apparent move to woo the farming community in the lead up to the general elections”, Ashraf remarked.
Malik Iftikhar Awan, senior vice president Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and former president APFMA also rejected the government decision, termed that it was totally unjustified, which would directly affected the poor masses. Though, he said that the new wheat prices announced by government, was not for present season, but it will definitely bring impacts by increasing prices of flour in the country. Therefore, he demanded of the government not only reverse current its decision, but also bring down old prices of wheat of Rs 1050 per 40/kg.
When contacted to President Kissan Board, Rizwanullah welcomed the government decision of increase in wheat support prices. But, he said that the move was only beneficial for feudal landlords and few influential people as government and private millers almost purchased wheat.
He informed that the wheat sowing has already ended on November 20 and now new price announced will not make a positive impact on upcoming wheat crop. He viewed that the low production of wheat was recorded against the expectations due to delay in decision on wheat support price in the country.