Govt committed to ensure price stability, prevent profiteering: Tarin
ISLAMABAD: The government is committed to build strategic reserves of essential commodities, including sugar, wheat, pulses, edible oil/ghee, etc, to ensure price stability and prevent undue profiteering and hoarding, a senior government official said.
Presiding over the meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC), held at the Finance Division on Monday, Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin said that the strategic reserves would ensure timely availability of basic commodities to bridge the gap between supply and demand.
To this effect, he directed the secretary of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to come up with a firm plan and place it before the committee for discussion and requisite approval.
Finance secretary Yusuf Khan briefed the meeting about the slight uptick in the weekly Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI), which increased 0.03 per cent during the week ended July 29, 2021.
The committee also reviewed the monthly inflation trend and noted that the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is 8.4 per cent for July 2021 declined 1.3 per cent, compared with the last month, i.e., 9.7 per cent in June 2021.
The Price Monitoring Committee also reviewed the prices of wheat, sugar, pulses, chicken and other essential food items in the country.
The Ministry of National Food Security and Research secretary briefed the committee about the wheat procurement process and said that the order for purchase of 220,000 tonnes of wheat had already been placed, while taking stock of the situation, the committee directed the ministry to take immediate steps for the import of 0.2 million tonnes of wheat to ensure adequate stocks of the commodity in the country.
Similarly, the Ministry of Industries and Production secretary briefed the meeting about the efforts in progress for the import of 600,000 tonnes of sugar for maintaining buffer stocks.
The tendering process has been initiated and adequate stocks of sugar will be available in the country until the next sugar season, he said.
The committee directed the Ministry of Industries and Production to expedite the tendering process and update the committee on a weekly basis. The Finance secretary briefed the meeting on the prices of the petroleum products in the neighbouring countries. The committee commended that the per unit price of petrol and electricity are cheapest in Pakistan, compared with the regional economies.
The government has absorbed the pressure to provide maximum relief to the consumers, while reviewing the prices, Finance Minister Tarin directed the Petroleum Division to analyse the impact of the current escalation in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices on the consumption of other fuels to look for alternatives and ensure availability of sufficient stocks.
In his concluding remarks, the finance minister highlighted the rising trend in the international commodity prices, amid the Covid-19 pandemic and underscored the efforts being made for keeping the prices of essential items in check.
He also said any assistance, financial or otherwise, needed, in this regard, will be provided to the respective provincial administrations and departments concerned for effective monitoring and to lessen the burden of price fluctuation due to the international price hike.
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