The federal food ministry has urged the prime minister to ask the government of Punjab to immediately end its ban on inter-provincial movement of flour. The ministry says that the price of a 20kg bag of flour may rise to Rs850 in other parts of the country if ban is not removed.  Media reports quoted an official of the food ministry as saying that "we have asked the prime minister to intervene and stop Punjab from playing politics with a staple food item. The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet, which is headed by the prime minister, is the best forum to take such decisions."  "The ban has adversely affected the wheat and flour supply chain," he said, adding that the food ministry had time and again urged the provincial government not to disturb the chain. According to reports received by the ministry, there is a shortage of flour in tribal areas and several parts of the NWFP where it is being sold at about Rs900 per 20kg. Its price is constantly on the rise in Sindh, particularly in Karachi where it is selling between Rs720 and Rs750 per 20kg.