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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin has directed the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) for making arrangement proactively to ensure supply of all essential items in the country to control prices of essential items.

The finance minister directed the USC during a weekly meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) presided over by him, after taking briefing on inflation from all the relevant departments.

On weekly SPI, the secretary finance updated the meeting about the latest data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics of May 27, 2021.

The meeting was informed that a decline of 0.63 percent was recorded on 27th May 2021 as prices of 10 items declined and 29 items remained stable during the week under review.

The finance secretary also told the meeting that on Month on Month basis, there was only 0.1 percent increase in CPI inflation in May 2021.

The average (July-May) CPI inflation remained 8.8 percent, whereas, it was 10.9 percent last year during the same period, he added.

Tarin acknowledged the efforts of the provincial governments and federal ministries/organisations for making an effort towards controlling inflation to provide relief to the masses by easing out inflationary pressure.

During the meeting, the progress on the earlier decisions of the NPMC forum was also reviewed.

It was emphasised that the Ministry of National Food Security and Research will assume the primary role in raising the production of essential imported food items including edible oil and pulses.

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research will build reserves of essential food items in partnership with the provinces.

The Ministry of Industries and Production briefed the NPMC that there is considerable progress on the issue of determining the ex-mill price of sugar in consultation with the provincial governments and the ministry will come up with the final position on the issue shortly.

The PBS gave a detailed presentation on gap analysis of the prices of essential food items in various markets across the country.

The meeting was of the view that the prices were relatively higher in the federal capital and the capital administration was directed to control the prices of essential items in the federal capital and present a detailed report on the measures taken in the next week’s meeting.

Senior officials of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) briefed the meeting with regard to action being taken against profiteers in the poultry market and the resultant decline in the price of chicken in the country.

The meeting was further told that the CCP action will continue until the prices are normalised.

The chief secretary Punjab informed the NPMC that managing director Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) was being facilitated as per the directions to achieve wheat procurement targets of the PASSCO.

The PBS also shared data on difference between wholesale and retail prices and the interpretation of price variations.

The NPMC was also briefed on the intervention of the USC in mitigating the inflationary pressure.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (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 USC, and other senior officers of various ministries participated in the meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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