Basic commodities strategic reserves to prevent profiteering: Tarin
ISLAMABAD: Finance and Revenue Minister Shaukat Tarin stressed the importance of meaningful interventions in the market by building strategic reserves of basic commodities, including wheat, sugar, edible oil/ghee, vegetables and pulses to prevent hoarding and undue profiteering.
Chairing the meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) held at the Finance Division, the finance minister said the government will flood the markets with necessary commodities to bridge the supply and demand gap where needed to check price hike.
Pakistan is the net importer of key food items such as wheat, sugar and pulses, he said, adding that the current upsurge in the international food prices, amid the coronavirus pandemic makes it imperative to build strategic reserves of essential commodities to bring stability in the prices of daily use items.
Tarin directed Ministry of National Food Security and Research secretary Ghufran Memon to work out the modalities for establishing commodity warehouses, storage facilities and agri-malls on the basis of the public-private partnership and present a detailed proposal before the committee.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Food Security Jamshed Cheema said that a proposal, in this regard, has been finalised and would be presented soon for approval.
The Ministry of Food secretary briefed the meeting about the availability of sufficient stocks of wheat in the country.
He also briefed the committee about the efforts underway regarding the wheat procurement.
Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) chairman Riaz Ahmed Memon apprised the committee about the tenders floated in the international market to purchase wheat and sugar.
The finance minister expressed satisfaction and directed to complete the procurement of wheat and sugar in phases, keeping in view the prevailing international prices.
Tarin also urged to look into the financial hedging of risks with reference to import of key commodities.
Reviewing the current market price and sugar stocks, the finance minister constituted a sub-committee, comprising of Ministry of NFS&R secretary, Ministry of Industries and Production secretary Kamran Ali Afzal, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman Asim Ahmed, TCP chairman Riaz Ahmed Memon and a representative of the Ministry of Commerce to expedite import of 0.6 million tonnes of sugar to ensure smooth supply across the country.
Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) chairperson Rahat Kaunain Hassan apprised the committee about the stern actions being taken to end cartelisation in the edible oil and ghee sector to ensure fair competition throughout the country.
The finance minister directed the CCP chairperson to accelerate efforts and present a detailed report before the forum at the earliest.
Earlier, the finance secretary briefed the meeting on the trends in the weekly Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI), which increased marginally by 0.12 per cent during the week ended August 5, 2021.
The prices of six items, including chicken, eggs, wheat flour bags, onions and tomatoes have declined, whereas the prices of 23 items remained unchanged.
The committee also reviewed the year-on-year international commodity prices and noted a massive price hike in major food items.
Sugar registered a 44.40 per cent increase in Y-o-Y, palm oil, 52.30 per cent; soyabean oil, 78.80 per cent; and wheat posted an increase of 18 per cent.
Correspondingly in the country, sugar registered an increase of 19.33 per cent; edible oil, 27.25 per cent; vegetable ghee, 29.40 per cent; and wheat registered an increase of 11.77 per cent.
The government absorbed the pressure by giving subsidies and importing staple food items to provide maximum relief to the consumers.
Similarly, there was an enormous increase in the price of crude oil by 73.80 per cent at the international level, whereas the government of Pakistan reduced the levy on petrol and petroleum-based products.
The coronavirus pandemic has played havoc with the global food prices due to supply chain disruptions.
The above comparative analysis reflects that the government sustained pressure to provide relief and keep the overall inflation in check.
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