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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin has directed the respective provincial administrations and concerned departments for strict monitoring of prices of basic commodities as well as sufficient availability of their stocks to provide relief to consumers.

The finance minister issued these instructions while chairing a weekly meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) to review last week’s price trends of essential commodities such as wheat flour, sugar, ghee, chicken and vegetables.

While briefing the NPMC about weekly Sensitive Price Index (SPI), the finance secretary said that prices of nine basic commodities registered a decline whereas prices of 30 items remained stable during the week under review. The meeting was told that in compliance with the earlier directions of the finance minister, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) updated the committee about data collection methodology and presented a detailed working regarding disparity between wholesale and retail prices of essential commodities. After due deliberations, the NPMC directed the PBS to further review its data collection methodology to reflect variation between wholesale and retail levels for basic commodities across different cities accurately.

The finance minister also directed the PBS to ensure that data must represent and reflect prevailing prices’ trends, including prices prevailing in Ramszan Sasta/Sahulat Bazaars for wider coverage.

The secretary, Ministry of National Food Security and Research (NFS&R) apprised the committee about availability of wheat stocks across the country. He also briefed about arrangements under way to import wheat for building strategic reserves and to ensure steady supply during the current year.

A summary will be presented before the next meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of Cabinet for requisite approval in this regard, he added. Tarin urged all the provincial governments to ensure daily release of wheat on subsidised rates in compliance with the directives of the prime minister to keep the prices of different wheat flour bags in check.

The finance minister stressed coordinated and consolidated efforts by all concerned to check undue profiteering and price hike to facilitate masses during the last week of Ramazan, he added.

Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, SAPM on Finance and Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, secretary Finance Division, secretary Ministry of NFS&R, secretary Ministry of Industries and Production, provincial chief secretaries, Member PBS, MD Utility Stores Corporation, and other senior officers participated in the meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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