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Sindh, Centre trade barbs on wheat price hike

The information minister states that in the market, the impression was deliberately being given that the flour prices were rising. Photo: File

The tussle between the Centre and the Sindh government intensified on Monday when Federal Minister for Information Senator Shibli Faraz accused the provincial authorities of the present surge in flour prices in the country.

Addressing a press conference along with Minister for Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam, the information minister stated that in the market, the impression was deliberately being given that the flour prices were rising.

Faraz said that the federal government had written two letters in this regard to Sindh but it is not releasing the wheat.

Punjab and Sindh had higher wheat production but the Sindh government had created a situation that was forcing people to purchase wheat at higher rates, he said, adding that in the past, some people made illegal profiteering by such tactics that have caused trouble to the people.

Maintaining that the profiteers were trying to discredit the government, the minister warned that those responsible for artificial shortages would be dealt with an iron hand.

Regretting that most people in rural Sindh suffered from malnutrition as the provincial government did nothing for the well-being of its people, the minister lamented that the recent monsoon spells in the financial hub of the country, Karachi, had exposed the below-par performance of the Sindh government.

“PPP had pushed the innocent people of the province into the swamp of poverty with its ineffective policies,” he noted.

The minister went on to add that the petroleum prices spiked in Pakistan due to an upward trend in the international market, lamenting that the situation had not returned to normalcy yet in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Syed Fakhar Imam said the government has procured 6.6 million tons this year, which is 2.6 million tons more than last year.

He said that Pakistan is the eighth largest producer of wheat in the world.

Imam said the people of Sindh are facing difficulties due to non-release of wheat from the provincial government while a 20-kg bag of flour is available at 860 rupees in Punjab.

‘Centre, Punjab blaming Sindh to hide their incompetence’

In response to the accusations of the federal minister, Sindh Information Minister Nasir Shah said that the Centre and the Punjab government are putting the blame on Sindh in order to hide their incompetence.

“Wheat is still being transported from Sindh to other provinces,” he said, adding that he was surprised to see that “even sensible federal ministers are talking nonsense.”

Raising questions that why Punjab government is not taking action against the hoarders, Shah asserted that the Punjab ministers “should end partnerships with hoarders and take action against them”.

“Federal ministers should go to Punjab and review the performance of their government, and then make allegations,” he added.

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