Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue, Industries and Production, Muhammad Hammad Azhar, chaired the meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) at the Finance Division today.
With the arrival of the holy month of Ramadan, the Punjab government updated the Committee that 313 “Ramadan/Sahulat Bazaars” have been established to provide maximum relief to the consumers by offering basic commodities at discounted prices. The Finance Minister directed the respective Provincial governments to establish a sufficient number of Ramadan Bazaars to ensure the provision of basic need items at affordable prices across the board, he stressed.
The MD, Utility Stores Corporation (USC) apprised the NPMC 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 Finance Minister directed MD, USC to firm up a plan to ensure all the basic items are well-stocked and available to the masses at discounted prices. The Finance Secretary informed the Committee that the Finance Division has released requisite funds and would facilitate further to enable USC to replenish its stock (as needed) during the holy month.
The NPMC reviewed the price trend of essential commodities, especially wheat flour, sugar, vegetable ghee, chicken, eggs, and vegetables during the last week. The Secretary of 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 percent), sugar (-3 percent), eggs (-1.4 percent), and pulses (-0.5 percent), recorded a decline due to improved availability. Non-food items, including LPG (-2.3 percent) and electricity charges (-1.3 percent), also recorded a decline.
The Ministry of National Food Security and Research briefed the Committee about the sufficient stock of wheat across the country. While reviewing the overall prices of wheat flour, the Finance Minister sought details from all the four Provinces regarding procurement targets and prevailing market prices.
The Committee observed prices of 20kg wheat flour bags were significantly higher in Sindh (Karachi Rs. 1,200 and 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 were higher in Sindh and what measures had been taken to control rising prices of wheat flour. The representative of the Sindh government highlighted that the higher procurement price set by the province (@ Rs. 2,000/40kg) was the reason for higher flour prices in Sindh compared to other provinces and no effective price control strategy had yet been formulated in the Province.
The Finance Minister also reviewed the prices and supply position of sugar across all Provinces. The Additional Secretary, M/o Industries and Production, briefed the Committee about a continuous downward trend in international prices of sugar, which will reduce the upward pressure on sugar prices in domestic markets.
The Finance Minister urged the Provincial governments to take strict administrative measures to ensure a smooth supply of sugar at fair prices during Ramadan.
In his concluding remarks, the Finance Minister emphasized the need for mobilizing district administrations and departments concerned to curtail profiteering and hoarding through the smooth supply of basic commodities at affordable prices throughout the country.
Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Syed Fakhar Imam, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue, Dr. Waqar Masood, Secretary Finance Division, Secretary M/o National Food Security and Research, Secretary M/o Industries and Production, MD Utility Stores Corporation, senior representatives of the Provincial governments, Member PBS and other senior officers participated in the meeting.
Source: Pro Pakistani