Finance Minister directs to establish sufficient number of Ramadan Bazaars

Finance Minister Hammad Azhar has directed to establish sufficient number of Ramadan Bazaars to ensure provision of basic items at affordable prices across Pakistan.

Chairing the meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee in Islamabad on Monday, he urged the Provincial governments to take strict administrative measures to ensure smooth supply of sugar at fair prices during Ramadan.

The Minister emphasized the need for mobilizing district administrations and departments concerned to curtail profiteering and hoarding through smooth supply of basic commodities at affordable prices throughout the country.

The Finance Minister directed MD, Utility Stores Corporation to firm up a plan to ensure all the basic items are well-stocked and available to the masses at discounted prices.

Hammad Azhar also reviewed the prices and supply position of sugar across all Provinces.

The MD, Utility Stores Corporation (USC) apprised the meeting about the arrangements being made to ensure uninterrupted supply of basic commodities namely wheat flour, rice, pulses, sugar, vegetable ghee and others at subsidized prices under the "Ramadan Relief Package" across its chain of outlets throughout the country.

The Secretary Finance briefed the Committee about the weekly SPI, where prices of 13 basic commodities registered a decline and 20 items remained stable during the week under review. Essential commodities including Flour (-0.7%), sugar (-3%), eggs (-1.4%) and pulses (-0.5%) recorded a decline due to improved availability. Non-food items including LPG (-2.3%) and electricity charges (-1.3%) also recorded a decline.

The Committee observed prices of 20kg wheat flour bags are significantly higher in Sindh (Karachi 1,200 & Hyderabad Rs 1,230) compared to prices in other provinces (Peshawar Rs 964, Quetta Rs 960, Islamabad Rs 864 and Lahore Rs 860).

The Finance Minister specifically asked the representative of the Sindh government to explain why prices are higher in Sindh and what measures had been taken to control rising prices of wheat flour. The representative of the Sindh government highlighted that higher procurement price set by the province at 2,000 rupees per 40kg bag is the reason for higher flour prices in Sindh as compared to other provinces and no effective price control strategy has yet been formulated in the Province.

Source: Radio Pakistan