Flour millers announce nationwide shutdown

A nationwide strike by flour mills, including those in Karachi, has raised concerns about a potential flour shortage as the supply chain comes to a halt. The Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA) initiated the strike today to protest the imposition of a withholding tax, resulting in the cessation of wheat grinding operations across the country. Aamir Abdullah, Chairman of the PFMA South, announced, “We have commenced an indefinite strike, leading to a complete halt in flour supply from all mills, including those in Karachi. This strike will also severely impact the supply of bran to livestock in buffalo colonies.” Abdullah further explained that the withholding tax would increase the price of flour by 8 to 10 rupees per kilogram. “The grinding process will remain suspended until our sole demand is met. Flour millers cannot act as withholding agents. Tax collection is the government’s responsibility. While we are willing to pay taxes, we object to the current procedure,” he stated. The strike has already sparked fears of a flour crisis nationwide due to the disrupted supply chain. Moreover, over 250 flour mills in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including those in Peshawar, have shut down. The PFMA’s protest against the increased withholding tax led to the suspension of the washing process in all Khyber Pakhtunkhwa mills yesterday, followed by the halting of wheat grinding and flour supply today. Protest banners have been displayed at the entrances of the flour mills, and flour sellers in markets have also joined the strike. Muhammad Naeem Butt, a group leader of the Flour Mills Association, stated, “The association will continue the indefinite strike until the federal government abolishes the withholding tax on flour, stops the increase in MDI rates in electricity bills, and lifts the ban on the free movement of wheat by the Punjab government.”