Tarin directs measures to curb undue profiteering during Eid-ul-Azha

Web DeskWeb Editor

13th Jul, 2021. 05:36 pm
Shaukat Tarin Post budget 2021-22

ISLAMABAD: Federal Finance and Revenue Minister Shaukat Tarin has directed the respective district administrations and departments concerned to take stern measures to keep the prices of essential items, including vegetables in check, on the occasion of the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha to curb undue profiteering.

Reviewing the year-on-year and week-on-week inflation trends, the finance minister constituted a working group under the umbrella of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) comprising provincial chief secretaries, Finance Division secretary and representatives of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of National Food Security and Research and other relevant departments.

He directed the relevant departments to workout measures for bringing price stability in the basic commodities by using mystery shopping exercise and building strategic reserves of key commodities such as wheat, sugar, pulses, ghee, tomatoes, onions and potatoes to eliminate undue profit margins and ensure availability of items of daily use at affordable prices across the country.

Taking stock of the situation, Finance Minister Tarin directed the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to present a detailed variance analysis vis-a-vis weekly Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI), highlighting food prices prevailing across the mainstream cities/districts for real-time comparison.

The data would be used by the respective provincial administrations and departments concerned to ensure that the notified rates are being followed across-the-board, he said, adding that this will minimise the price differential between farm gate prices and retail rates.

Ministry of Industries and Production secretary Khalid Masood briefed the National Price Monitoring Committee about the international price trend of edible oil.

After an increase in the prices of soyabean and palm oil, at present, the international prices have registered a decline. The finance minister directed the Ministry of Industries and Production, the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to take requisite actions to ensure that the current decline in the international edible oil prices is passed on to the domestic consumers.

On the occasion, Competition Commission of Pakistan chairperson Rahat Kaunain Hassan briefed the committee that the commission has undertaken an inquiry in the edible oil and ghee sector to ascertain information and cross-check the facts regarding alleged collective price-fixing of retail prices of various products of cooking oil and ghee for different market segments.

The finance minister directed the CCP chairperson to expedite inquiry and follow due course of action to put an end to anti-competitive activities. No cartelisation will be allowed at any cost and strict action will be taken against hoarding and undue profiteering, he said.

The CCP also shared findings about the presence of 4,000 Artis across 36 districts of Punjab who are dealing with the prices of basic vegetables.

After reviewing the findings of the commission, the finance minister directed to build a model/framework in which deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners are assigned to monitor a specific number of Artis (middlemen) to eliminate price manoeuvring.

Such a model can be replicated in other provinces to minimise the price differential across the whole chain, i.e., from farm gate to retail prices of basic commodities.

Tarin also constituted a committee comprising provincial chief secretaries, finance and NFS&R secretaries, CCP chairperson and representative of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to formulate an action plan and hold all those accountable who are involved in price fixation and anti-competitive activities after fulfilling all the codal formalities.

The food secretary apprised the National Price Monitoring Committee that sufficient stocks of wheat are available in the country.

He also said arrangements are underway to import wheat for building strategic reserves, as approved by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet, and the whole process would be completed soon.

Likewise, the industries and production secretary also updated the price monitoring committee that arrangements have been made to import 0.1 million tonnes of sugar by August 15, 2021.

Finance Minister Train directed to procure another 100,000 tonnes of sugar in due course of time to ensure strategic reserves of key commodities for price stability.

The industries and production secretary also apprised that sufficient reserves of sugar will be available till the arrival of the new sugarcane crop.

The finance secretary briefed the committee about a slight increase of 0.07 per cent in the weekly Sensitive Price Index (SPI), indicating price stability, compared with the previous weeks.

The National Price Monitoring Committee also reviewed the year-on-year weekly inflation. The year-on-year weekly inflation is coming down for the last two months from a high of 17.23 per cent on May 20, 2021 to 12.28 per cent on July 8, 2021, which is a significant decline.

Similarly, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), as released on July 1, 2021, showed an annual inflation at level of 8.9 per cent, which was down from 10.74 per cent a year ago, while urban and rural inflation stood at 8.15 per cent and 10.05 per cent, respectively, compared with 10.17 per cent and 11.63 per cent, respectively.

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