KARACHI: Sindh Food Minister Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar on Thursday said that neither there was flour shortage in Karachi nor he would allow anyone to create it artificially in the city.
Addressing a press conference at his office, the minister said the provincial government would take stern action against flour mills involved in hoarding wheat.
He said that the wheat procurement target set by the department was 1,300,000 metric tons and they had procured 484,538.6 metric-tons of wheat. “Current wheat procurement will be enough to meet the requirements of the province, however, the target will be achieved within 15 days,” Dahar said.
He said that the government would not bow down before any pressure and it would continue to supply flour in the city. The minister said that out of 76 functional flour mills in the city, 30 of them were with government. “These 30 flour mills will work day and night to avoid any flour shortage in the province including Karachi,” he said adding that these flour mills would be allowed to bring wheat from four districts of Sindh into Karachi.
He said that 219875 wheat bags were brought in the city through 644 trucks from 11-23 April 2014.
The minister rejected All Pakistan Flour Mills Association claims of bribery by food officials for allowing trucks to enter Karachi from interior Sindh and said that when the provincial government took action against flour mills for smuggling wheat to other provinces, then they started hurling baseless allegations against the department.
He said that Sindh is the only province where wheat comes in market before any other province, however, some profiteers smuggle it to Punjab and Baluchistan for taking extra profit.
The minister also announced to impose section 144 on transferring flour to other provinces and said that soon after ban on transferring wheat to other provinces, the flour mills took advantage of it and start transferring flour instead of wheat to other provinces.
He said that if the flour mills involved in creating an artificial shortage did not stop their strike, the provincial ministry would be compelled to terminate their licenses.
He also demanded of commissioners and deputy commissioners of the city to take stern action against profiteers charging more rates for flour.