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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance and Revenue, Hammad Azhar Monday sought details from the provincial food secretaries regarding the prevailing sugar prices and directed strict monitoring of the prices of sugar at retail levels to ensure a steady supply and to counter price disparity effectively.

Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue, Industries and Production, Muhammad Hammad Azhar directed this while chairing the meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC).

Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research (NFS&R) Syed Fakhar Imam, SAPM on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, secretary Finance Division, secretary Ministry of NFS&R, additional secretary Ministry of Industries and Production, senior representatives of the provincial governments, the MD Utility Stores Corporation, member CCP, MD Passco, and senior officials of the Finance Division participated in the meeting.

The NPMC reviewed the price trend of essential commodities especially wheat flour, sugar, vegetable ghee, chicken and eggs during the last week.

The secretary finance briefed the Committee about the weekly SPI, which decreased by 0.43 percent, whereas prices of 12 basic commodities registered a decline, and 24 items remained stable during the week under review, he added.

The secretary, Ministry of NFS&R briefed the Committee about the sufficient stock of wheat across the country.

The overall release position by the respective provinces was also reviewed during the meeting.

Taking stock of the situation, the finance minister directed the representatives of the provincial governments to take appropriate measures for keeping prices of the wheat flour bags in check.

The NPMC urged the provinces to take all possible measures to ensure a smooth supply of wheat at fair prices across the board.

All the four provinces briefed the finance minister about their ongoing wheat procurement plans.

The finance minister reviewed the procurement plans of the provinces and issued strict directions to ensure that the wheat is procured in a smooth and timely manner in coordination with all the federal and provincial organisations.

He expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made and initiatives taken by the provincial governments in this regard.

The Punjab government updated the committee about setting up Ramzan/Sahulat bazaars for providing essential commodities at subsidised rates during the holy month.

The committee directed the representatives of the provincial governments to ensure the provision of basic commodities at discounted prices through Ramazan/Sahulat bazaars in order to provide maximum relief to the consumers in compliance with the directives of the prime minister.

The MD USC also briefed the committee about the measures being taken to ensure availability of basic need items at subsidised prices under the “Ramadan Relief Package” through the chain of outlets across the country.

The finance minister directed the MD USC to ensure an uninterrupted supply of basic commodities at the Utility Stores outlets during Ramazan.

The additional secretary Ministry of Industry and Production updated the committee about the slight decrease in the international price of sugar, which will reduce the upward pressure on sugar prices in the domestic markets.

The finance minister stated that controlling inflation is the top-most priority of the government and emphasised the need for coordinated and consolidated efforts by all concerned to provide essential items to the general public at fair prices.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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