Prices of wheat flour, food items increased at utility stores as Ramazan relief package ends

Zubair Qureshi

The Utility Stores Corporation (USC) resumed the increased prices of food commodities as the federal government ended the Ramazan relief Package.

Following a notification issued by the federal government, the price of a 500 gram packet of dates has been increased by Rs10, 950 gram of tea by Rs67, 400 gram of spices by Rs36, one liter of Milk Pak by Rs20 and white cumin 200 grams by Rs23 at the twin cities utility stores.

In addition to this, the price of 50 grams of cardamom has increased by Rs18, red chilli by Rs18 per 200 grams, shampoo by Rs14 and 100 grams of turmeric by Rs4 at the USC.

The price of pulses has also increased by Rs10 per kg and cooking oil of various brands by up to Rs20 per litre, as per the notification, this was learnt in a survey on Sunday.

The Utility Stores Corporation (USC) says that instead of 19 items, the federal government will now subsidize five items. Sugar will be available at Rs70 per kg, flour 10kg bag at Rs400 and ghee at Rs260 per kg. Rice and pulses will also be subsidized.

The USC has completed its Ramazan relief package for 2022. The CNIC requirement will still be intact with limits on quantities such as sugar of 5kg, flour of 40kg and ghee of 5kg. Moreover, the prices of other branded items available at the utility stores are much lower than the general market.

On the other hand, a 20kg flour bag became dearer by Rs210 for the consumers as the official release of subsidized grains finally came to an end. In line with the present wheat prices in the open market, the retail price of a 20kg bag of flour in the twin cities has gone up to Rs1,310 and the price of a 10kg bag of flour to Rs660. After the closure of the official wheat quota, the retail price of wheat in the open market has gone up to Rs2,325 per 40kg. Flour mill owners have said that at the prevailing wheat price, the price of flour has become costlier by Rs10.50 per kg.

This year, the Punjab government fixed the minimum support price of fresh wheat at Rs2,200 per 40kg against the earlier price of Rs1,800 per 40kg. Wheat was earlier being supplied to flour mills at the subsidized rate of Rs1,950 per 40kg.

The Punjab Food Department has bought more than 4 million tons wheat until now and is still procuring the grains. As flour millers have purchased the wheat at higher rates than the minimum support price of Rs2,200 per 40kg from the open market, the price of flour is bound to increase in line with market trends.

Currently, the private wheat rate ranges between Rs2,300 and Rs2,350 per maund. Hence, keeping in view of the current prevailing wheat prices, rates have been increased for private atta packed in white bags at the ex-mills rate of Rs645 for a 10kg bag and Rs1,280 for a 20kg bag. With grinding of private wheat, the price of a 20kg bag of flour has skyrocketed from Rs1,100 to Rs 1,310 that may increase the rate of roti.

Meanwhile, the price of poultry meat has also registered increase while its supply is also short, causing over-pricing to record Rs500 per kilogramme at Islamabad and Rawalpindi poultry markets. The official price of chicken meat stands at Rs473 per kg. However, consumers complained that it is being supplied as per demand and traders have jacked up its price to Rs500 per kg.

Earlier, in March, the price of chicken meat reached Rs407 per kilogram. At that time, in just a span of a week, the chicken meat price jumped by around Rs70 per kg — from Rs334 per kilogram to Rs407. At that time, there were speculations that the price might touch Rs500 per kilogram at the start of Ramazan. However, the recent price hike in the wake of Ramazan is unprecedented.


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