ISLAMABAD: On Monday, Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh formed a committee to establish a coordinated course of action to reduce sugar and edible oil prices.
The group, headed by Hammad Azhar, Federal Minister for Factories and Development, will have as members the Secretary of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research and interested stakeholders.
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The decision was made at a meeting chaired by Dr Shaikh of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC). The meeting discussed the prices of important food products, especially wheat, sugar and edible oil.
On that occasion, Hammad, in collaboration with stakeholders, informed the NPMC on the steps being taken to further reduce sugar and edible oil prices. On the price of edible oil, he said the Federal Board of Revenue is being consulted on the subject.
We are evaluating the stocks, production and supply of sugar to the provinces,” he added.”
Dr Shaikh emphasised the need to track demand and supply positions throughout the country for the efficient functioning of both federal and provincial authorities.
In the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan, the NPMC observed price fluctuations in wheat flour that were expressed in data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
Dr. Shaikh instructed the Chief Secretaries to control the smooth supply of wheat across the provinces by increasing the regular release, if necessary, and to send a detailed report accordingly at the next NPMC conference.
He urged the provincial secretaries to check the possibilities of hoarding and black marketing, particularly wheat and sugar, and to ensure that these commodities are given uninterruptedly at fair prices.
As a hopeful outcome of vigilant surveillance under the NPMC on a regular basis, the finance ministry briefed on the decline in the consumer price index reported at eight percent in December 2020 compared to 12.6pc in December 2019.
As urban food inflation decreased by 2.1pc and rural inflation fell by 3.4pc on a month-on-month basis, the NPMC observed a substantial decrease in food inflation. It was also announced at the meeting that the weekly Responsive Price Index decreased by 0.7pc. The prices of 10 important food items, including tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and chicken, have been drastically reduced.
Dr Shaikh noted that the prices of basic commodities have begun to display a decreasing pattern, a promising product of weekly diligent tracking under the NPMC. He emphasised improved cooperation among federal and regional authorities to recognise demand supply gaps and take immediate remedial steps to ensure uninterrupted supply of goods of daily use at affordable rates.