ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin presided over the meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) and asked to provide relief to consumers.
The meeting noted that prices of palm oil and soyabean are declining trend in the international market but its impact on the domestic market so far has not been observed.
The minister directed Ministry of Industries and Production to hold a meeting with ghee and edible oil manufacturers to transmit the decline in international oil prices to the local consumers. He added that strict action will be taken if any obstacle is observed anywhere in the country.
Secretary Finance informed that the weekly Sensitive Price Index (SPI) increased by 0.28 percent for the week ended on June 17 after a three-week consecutive decline. The prices of nine items declined, 21 items slightly increased and 21 items remained stable.
He apprised the movement of essential items during the last six weeks as well as price comparison among the provinces and Islamabad. The minister noted that declined have reduced in the federal capital and said provincial governments must provide relief to the common man by strict monitoring of prices.
The Ministry of National Food Security & Research (NFS&R) gave a detailed presentation regarding the production cycle of perishable items such as tomatoes, potatoes and onions along with pulses.
It said two-thirds of demand for pulses is being fulfilled through imports and there is a need to build strategic reserves to ensure smooth supply, achieve price stability and reduce international dependence.
The ministry was directed to prepare an emergency plan for establishing cold storage and warehouses in key areas where perishable food items are produced and also explore feasible options in collaboration with the private sector.
Chief Secretary KP briefed the meeting about the value chain analysis of essential items. The finance minister noted that there is a huge margin of profit being earned by the wholesalers who purchase from the farmers.
The minister directed provincial governments of Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan to present the value chain analysis of essential items in the upcoming NPMC meeting and take corrective measures to ease out price hike.
The committee was briefed that as per prices comparison published by the World Bank, the international price of sugar has increased by 58.3%, soyabean oil increased by a whopping 119.20% annually and just by 23.5% during the last month (April-May 2021). The COVID-19 crisis has played havoc with the international supply chain scenario and fueled food inflation all over the globe, it noted.
Furthermore, the international price trend in palm oil indicates an increase of 102.6% yearly and 7.9% during the last month. Due to the rising trend, the domestic price hike couldn’t be avoided as Pakistan is the net importer of staple food commodities like wheat, sugar, edible oil, and pulses.
During these testing times, it noted the government has taken all possible measures to provide the maximum relief to the masses during the pandemic-induced global food inflation crisis.
The finance minister further directed to workout modalities to maintain strategic reserves of sugar and wheat to ensure smooth supply at affordable prices during the upcoming financial year.
He directed to initiate international procurement drive of wheat and sugar. He stressed the government is fully cognizant of its responsibility regarding provision of essential items at affordable prices.
He said the government has taken all-out measures to provide essential items through a network of Sahulat/Sasta Baazars, hefty subsidies through Utility Stores outlets under Ramadan Package, and is taking strict administrative measures to keep prices of basic items in check.