The flour mill owners have requested the federal government to allow them to import up to 500,000 tons of wheat from India to meet the exports of the wheat by-products, it is learnt. According to reliable sources in the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNSFR) the request was made by a delegation of the All Pakistan Flour Mills Association (APFMA) in a recent held meeting with Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan Federal Minister for MNSFR.
“APFMA has sought permission to import wheat from India up to 0.5 million tons, saying that local wheat prices were much higher and exporting the by-products of local wheat is no more profitable for the flour mills”, the official maintained. The official on a query said that the wheat flour is exempted from General Sales tax (GST) and, therefore, increase in commodity price in the name of GST is out of the question.
When contacted Asim Raza Ahmed a senior representative of APFMA said a formal request has been made to the government to allow import of Indian wheat. He said that the government should immediately allow the mill owners to import Indian wheat which at Wagah border will cost Rs 1,120 per 40 kg, while local wheat costs Rs 1,250 per 40 kg.
After the arrival of new wheat crop in March the Punjab government stopped wheat supply to the mills, and the mills purchased wheat from the open market at new minimum support price of Rs 1,250 per 40 kg set by the federal government; as a consequence of higher wheat price flour price registered an increase of Rs 7 per kg or 280 per 40 kg from March onwards, he added.
At present, wheat price is the highest in Pakistan owing to high input cost and the country is losing markets abroad including United Arab Emirates (UAE), Afghanistan and many African countries, while Pakistani flour mills are exporting huge quantity of wheat by-products.
“At present per quintal wheat in the open market is being sold at Rs 3,250 and if transportation cost etc is added the price goes up to Rs 3,450 per quintal and if we include grinding cost of one kg flour it costs us at Rs 37 per kg, The market price is Rs 39 per kg”, the official said. The government from 2008 to 2013 increased the wheat support price from Rs 600 per 40 kg to Rs 1250 per 40 kg, due to which the farmers across the country brought more land under wheat cultivation, however, the cost to the consumers rose commensurately.