Chandigarh: Punjab based wheat flour mills have said there will not be any reduction in prices of wheat-based items like flour, citing 'insufficient' availability of raw material.

Lamenting the non-availability of 'surplus' wheat in the open market because of record procurement by FCI for central pool, flour millers demanding removal of any 'restriction' on wheat quantity to be supplied under OMSS to ease retail rates of wheat-based products.

"We do not see any reduction in retail rates of wheat based items (flour, refined flour) as of now as there is insufficient availability of input with flour mill owners," Punjab Roller Flour Mill Association President Naresh Ghai told.

"At present, only FCI has wheat...there is no wheat in the market from which one can buy," he said.

FCI is supplying wheat to bulk buyers under Open Market Sales Scheme (OMSS) at a much lower rate of Rs 1,170 per quintal against the wheat MSP of Rs 1,285 per quintal for Rabi marketing season of 2012-13.

All roller flour mills have cited their monthly wheat requirement of 1 lakh tonne per month while distribution of 1 lakh tonne of wheat by FCI under OMSS is meant for three months.

The mill owners in last rabi marketing season even bought about 3 lakh tonne of wheat from Uttar Pradesh because of crop being available at lower rates than that of Punjab.

Notably, the private buying of wheat in Punjab remained at less than 2,000 tonne against procurement of 129 lakh tonne.

When contacted, an official of FCI Punjab said the prices of wheat based products should come down as flour mills are getting wheat at "much" cheaper rate.

"It is expected that retail price (of wheat based items) should come down because they are now getting wheat at Rs 1,170 per quintal against a price of Rs 1,285 per quintal," he said.

However, he said FCI would soon seek more allocation of wheat under OMSS from the Centre for Punjab which would help in easing inflationary pressures as well as storage crisis.

With wheat remaining short in supply, the distribution of wheat under OMSS saw massive response from bulk buyers with over 60 bidders placing bids for buying 50,000 tonne of wheat from FCI at Rs 1,170-1,172 per quintal.

"We have seen a very good response for releasing wheat under OMSS in Punjab this time," FCI official informed.

(Agencies)

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