KARACHI         -          The Sindh Food Department on Thurs­day signed Memorandum of Under­standing with Pakistan Agricultural Storage & Services Corporation (Pass­co) for procurement of three lac metric ton wheat. Passco General Manager Col (r) Tanveer Ahmed Meo represented the federal organization while addi­tional director food Sindh Khalid Qaim­khani signed the paper on part of Sindh food department.

On the occasion Sindh Minister for Food Hari Ram Kishori Lal, Secretary Food Sindh Laeeq Ahmed, Director Food Khadim Hussain Bhutto, Chair­man Pakistan flour Mill Association Khalid Masood and ex-chairman Paki­stan Flour mill Association Muhammad Yousaf and others witnessed the cer­emony.

Talking to media, Sindh Minister for Food Hari Ram said that Sindh food de­partment had already procured 1 lac metric ton wheat from Passco which was being supplied to flour mills. He added that sufficient wheat stock was available in Sindh for its requirement till the next crop season. He said that wheat procured from Passco was be­ing supplied on subsidised rates to flour mills with fifty percent cost share of federal and provincial government, while Sindh government was giving 100 per­cent subsidy on stock available with Sindh Food Department. He said that Sindh food department had fixed Rs 43 per kg ex-mill rate of flour with the consensus of Paki­stan Flour Mill Association.

The provincial minister said that this week flour prices were at Rs 46 per kg but within a week prices of flour would be at Rs 43 per kg. To a question, the minister said that Sindh government had decided not to procure wheat in last season as enough stock of 8 lac met­ric ton was available in the godowns of food department.

To another question, the provincial minister said that due to rumors the flour prices were increased. He added that when wheat was being supplied to flour mills on sub­sidised rates then benefit should be passed to consumers. He said that strict ac­tion would be taken against the flour mills and retailers who were selling flour on exorbitant rates and added that he would not tolerate that flour was being supplied to poor people on exorbitant rates.

Passco General Manager Colonel (r) Tanveer Ahmed Meo that Passco main­tained its wheat reserves which was helpful for meeting additional require­ment of provinces. He said that Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa had been supplied 4 lac 50 thousand metric ton, Sindh 1 lac metric ton while 50 thousand metric ton to Baluchistan on the demand. He said that today a MoU was signed with Sindh food department for additional 3 lac metric ton wheat which will help in providing relief to general public.

Sindh Food Secretary Laeeq Ahmed added that 79 officials of food depart­ment had been suspended while above 150 have been served show cause no­tices on misappropriation. He said that food department has halted the supply of wheat quota to non functional and those flour mills which were involved in play bargain. The flour mill repre­sentative Muhammad Yousaf praised the decision of Food department for not purchasing wheat in last crop argu­ing that during last 7 years Sindh food department has surplus stock beyond its storing capacity. He said that Food department has capacity of storing 6 lac 40 thousand metric ton. He said that Pakistan Flour mill Association will arrange fair price shops outside their mills and at Bachat Bazaars to provide relief to public.