From Zeeshan Mirza
KARACHI: Flour prices have soared to new heights, according to data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) released on Friday, with the price of a 20kg bag increasing up to Rs200 in the span of a week in Karachi.
According to PBS data, the maximum price of a 20kg bag of wheat flour was Rs1,900 for the week which ended on June 23. In comparison, the maximum price of the same 20kg bag was Rs1,700 for the week which ended on June 16.
The data released Friday also showed that the maximum price of a 20kg bag of wheat flour in Karachi was almost double compared to Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Lahore, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Multan and Bahawalpur — where the maximum price was recorded as Rs980. The numbers showed that the maximum wheat flour price had increased in other cities as well: from Rs1,480 to Rs1,640 in Sukkur, Rs1,720 to Rs1,820 in Hyderabad, Rs1,650 to Rs1,720 in Quetta, Rs1,570 to Rs1,630 in Khuzdar, Rs1,520 to Rs1,560 in Larkana, Rs1,630 to 1,650 in Peshawar.
The PBS report said inflation measured through the sensitive price index (SPI) recorded an increase of 1.01 per cent. It went on to say that an increase was observed in the prices of food items, with wheat flour going up by 2.08pc.
The SPI comprises 51 essential items collected from 50 markets in 17 cities of the country. The report said out of 51 items, the prices of 32 (62.75pc) items increased, the prices of four (7.84pc) decreased and the prices of 15 (29.41pc) remained stable.
Earlier this week, flour millers in Karachi further increased the prices of various varieties of flour by Rs6 per kg as consumers struggle to cope with high food prices and utility bills.
According to a miller in Karachi, makers had been demanding the hassle-free movement of wheat to Karachi from growing areas in Sindh for over a month. The Sindh Food Department had set up check posts in the interior Sindh to curb the free movement of grain to Karachi.
He had attributed the price increase to a rise in the open market rates for 100 kg wheat flour bags — which were selling for Rs7,800–8,000, up Rs7,200 from the third week of May — as well as rising transportation costs due to the increase in diesel rates in the last month.
He had added that the Sindh Food Department had only given millers “hollow assurances” about the restoration of free wheat movement to Karachi from interior Sindh but no practical steps had been taken.