Retailers fleecing flour consumers

Post Source: Dawn Newspaper

By Aamir Shafaat Khan

KARACHI: Consumers have yet to benefit from the falling wheat and wholesale flour prices as retailers continue charging higher rates for various flour varieties. Some 10 days back, the 50-kg bag of flour No 2.5 had come down to Rs1,350 from Rs1,390. On Monday, it slipped further as some retailers quoted the rate of 50 kg bag at Rs1,320. The 100-kg wheat bag price had also plunged to Rs2,365 some 10 days back from Rs2,410. On Monday a flour miller quoted the price of wheat bag at Rs2,350.

Retailers in various areas were seen demanding Rs28-30 per kg for atta No 2.5, while the rates of chakki and fine flour were Rs33-34 per kg. The 10 kg Ashrafi flour bag is tagged at Rs310, while another variety of 10 kg bag sells at Rs270.Some retailers said that they had old stocks purchased at higher rate prevailing 10 days back and as soon as this stock is cleared the rate would come down in the next two to three days. However, the same retailers were quick enough to pass on the impact instantly to the consumers in case of any upward change in wheat and wholesale price of flour.

The city government also does not issue price of various flour varieties in the fortnightly price list. The list also lacks rates of sugar and ghee and cooking oil.

General Secretary Karachi Atta Chakki Association (KACA) Anis Shahid said that the association has kept the old wholesale rate of chakki flour at Rs30 per kg so far, but retailers are charging higher price from the consumers.

He said there are two types of wheat. For chakki quality, the rate of 100 kg wheat bag (unclean) has fallen to Rs2,400 from Rs2,450. After going through the cleaning process, the 100 kg bag of clean wheat for making chakki flour is now priced at Rs2,575 as compared to Rs2,650 some 20 days back.

Anis said that if the wheat rate falls further the price will come down as the ban on arrival of wheat from Punjab still exists despite calling off the strike by flour millers on the assurance that the matter would be resolved soon.

He said the quality of Punjab wheat is far superior to the Sindh wheat. He added that the wheat arriving from Sindh in March/April was infected and carried dust and around three to four kg was going into waste. Now the quality has further deteriorated as share of wastage in 100-kg bag is now six to seven kg.

Meanwhile, flour millers are expecting some decisions over the lifting of inter-provincial ban on movement of wheat from Punjab to Sindh.

A flour miller said that the government had given us 10-15 days time to settle the issue after ending the strike by the millers on July 12.

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