After the government decision of dropping yet another inflation bomb by making record increase in oil and CNG prices by Rs6.32 (after deduction of Rs2.32 per litre) and Rs11.57 per kg respectively, the Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA) Multan chapter has decided unilaterally to jack up its transportation charges by Rs7 per 20kg flour bag to Rs15.
Consequently, after including the new the transportation charges, the 20kg flour bag will be delivered to the retailers now in Rs625 instead of earlier rate of Rs 600. Resultantly, the flour bag of 20kg now will be available at Rs625 in the open market, showing a jump of Rs 25 from earlier Rs 600.
PFMA former chairman Nawab Liaquat Ali Khan, while talking to mediamen, said that Flour Millers Association Multan body had announced the increase in rate of delivery charges of flour by Rs7 per 20kg bag also.
He said that in January the government raised the price of petrol by Rs5.37 per litre, high speed diesel by Rs4.64 per litre, high octane blending component by Rs6.29 and kerosene oil by Rs2.78. In February, price of petrol was increased by Rs2.75 per litre, HOBC by Rs8.67, kerosene oil by Rs4.38 and HSDO by Rs2.82 per litre.
He demanded the government not only to withdraw Fuel Adjustment Surcharge but also the General Sales Tax (GST) from flour milling industry as it was producing basic food product for masses. He warned the government that PFMA would call its Executive Committee meeting on April 5, in which flour millers would decide future course of action and the option to call on strike.
Responding to a question, he asked the government to immediately withdraw Fuel Adjustment Surcharge from electricity bills of flour milling industry, otherwise millers would be compelled to jack up flour prices up to Rs625 per 20kg bag, besides observing token strike for three days.
He said that low wheat grinding rates and high electricity cost had hit the flour milling sector, as more than 50 percent mills in Punjab had been closed down.
He said that ever-soaring energy cost and fixed rates of wheat grinding by Punjab government had forced mill owners to shut down almost 400 mills in the province, as presently only 300 units were operating out of total 750 mills.
He said Punjab government’s recent decision to cut rates of old wheat stock had supported the industry to some extent but as soon as cheaper stock ended, the situation became worse for industry and its survival seemed to be difficult. He said the government had fixed Rs240 per 100 kg as official wheat grinding rate in 2008 which were constant for the last four years.
He lamented that flour millers were not capable of charging full grinding rates as wheat support price was continuously going high while the rate of by-product of wheat [bran] has decreased, resulting into loss of flour millers.
PFMA former chairman said the government should provide relief to flour milling industry to ensure easy availability of wheat flour. He said the government had increased wheat support price which would ultimately reflect on flour prices and imposition of fuel adjustment surcharge of flour milling industry would further swell the prices.