LAHORE Intense dearness and spiralling prices of essential items have rendered the masses hard pressed and unable to manage their domestic budgets. With this view in mind the Punjab government is also ready to provide flour to the poor against subsidised rates during the coming holy month only, however the price of the atta is two times higher than it was fixed in the preceding year. The poor, which had high hopes of getting financial relief during the month of Ramazan like they had last year, are not much happy with the scant relief on atta when price of sugar is on the surge due to short supply and the ghee man-ufacturers are also weighing their wings to jump into bandwagon of price enhancers. The worry of the poor also germinates from the unfixed prices of pulses, which are continuously fluctuating in the retail market, while exorbitant prices of vegetables and fruits during the holy month in the absence of a foolproof price control mechanism is another painful thought. As per details, Punjab government is stuck to its decision of providing 20kg flour bag at Rs 425 against the open market rate ranging from Rs 528-535. Citizens talking to The Nation said that government should keep in the mind while giving relief on the flour that rate of per mound wheat jumped from Rs 425 to Rs 940 this year due to different causes and inconsistency of the government policies but those currently having no sufficient money to manage their house budget, are unable to buy the flour against the new rates of wheat. Amir, Zulifqar, Karamat, Rasheed, Wasif, Manzoor, Nad-eem, Nasir and others deplored hike in prices posing, why could not the government evolve a mechanism to provide relief to the poor throughout the year? They said, if the government has sufficient wheat in stock this year, it should provide relief to masses through relief package round the year so that the poor could get relief in the real sense. Nadeem and Nasir said that the flour rate was not affordable for a person with salary of a labourer falling between Rs 5000 to 6000 per month when major chunks of their money went to foot the utility bills. Citizens termed the relief package rate of 20 kg flour bag at Rs 425 a peanut and said unanimously that the rate of the flour in the holy month should be further down as near Rs 300 so that they could get relief. The Punjab Agriculture Minister while addressing a Press conference on July 23 last had said that Punjab government was having sufficient wheat stocks, which were double against the need of the Punjab this year. He claimed that Punjab government was having more than 50 lacs tons of wheat this year. When contacted Punjab Food Secretary Irfan Elahi to know the government intention of providing relief (rate of 20 kg flour bag) to the masses further below from Rs 425 in Ramzan, he said that rate of 20 kg flour bag had been decided and there was no chance of bringing the rate of flour further down in the holy month. Sources privy to the flour millers said that government was going to announce the rate of per mound wheat at about Rs 752 for providing the 20 kg flour bag at Rs 425 to poor masses in Ramzan, but the Food Secretary said that discussion was underway to announce the rate of wheat to the flour millers for providing relief to the poor people on the price of flour only in Ramzan.