ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has sought details from the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) with regard to an inquiry into some anti-competitive practices that led to an increase in the chicken feed and consequently, there is considerable increase in the rates of chicken. The finance minister sought outcomes of the inquiry from the CCP, while chairing a weekly meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) on Monday.
The meeting reviewed the price trend of essential commodities especially wheat flour, sugar edible oil/ghee, pulses and chicken during the last week.
The finance secretary told the meeting that as per weekly SPI, the prices of seven items registered a decline, whereas those of 19 remained stable during the week under review.
The Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research briefed the meeting about the efforts under way to import four million metric tons of wheat during the current year to ensure smooth supply of wheat across the country.
The meeting was informed about multiple options under consideration for building strategic reserves of wheat throughout the country. The purpose was to ensure steady supply of wheat at affordable prices across the board, the meeting was further informed. While taking stock of the situation, the finance minister directed all respective provincial administrations to ensure daily release of wheat at subsidised rates in compliance with the directives of the prime minister.
While reviewing the current price trend of chicken, the representatives of the provincial governments reported that surge in prices of chicken was driven by the gap in supply and demand.
The poultry farmers have suffered losses over the last few months due to COVID-19-related supply disruption and poultry disease, which in turn, fuelled poultry prices.
The finance minister sought details from the chairperson CCP regarding an inquiry underway with reference to some anti-competitive practices that led to price hike in chicken feed which, in turn, increased the prices of chicken.
The CCP chairperson apprised the meeting that the process will be completed soon and recommendations would be shared with the provincial governments and departments concerned for an appropriate counter-action.
The finance minister directed to accelerate the whole process.
The speed is of essence in drawing findings and taking stern measures to check cartelisation, hoarding and undue profiteering effectively, he stressed.
The secretary Ministry of Industries and Production apprised the meeting about the current uptick in international prices of soya and palm oils.
Owing to a significant volatility in international prices of edible oil, the finance minister constituted a sub-committee comprising the Minister for National Food Security and Research and Minister for Industries and Production to work out a lasting arrangement by exploring alternate options to reduce dependence on import of edible oil and other basic food items.
He vowed full support for allocation of funds in the upcoming budget for upgrading existing research institutions as well as establishing state-of-the art research facilities to suggest alternate high yielding crops to meet increased demand and to curb malnutrition.
Pakistan is blessed with four seasons, fertile land, and natural resources. There is an increased need for introducing modern techniques to revolutionise the farming sector.
The government is firmly committed to introducing innovation in every sector, added Tarin.
Tarin directed the PBS to work out a mechanism and compile a gap analysis (differential between wholesale and retail prices) along with weekly SPI for key basic commodities to gauge price variations effectively.
This will enable the provincial governments and all concerned departments to take appropriate administrative measures.
The meeting was attended by Minister for National Food Security and Research (NFS&R) Syed Fakhar Imam, Minister for Industries and Production Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, SAPM on Finance and Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, secretary Finance Division, secretary Ministry of NFS&R, chief secretaries of the provincial governments, member PBS, chairperson CCP, MD Utility Stores Corporation, and other senior officers of various ministries participated in the meeting.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021