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ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin directed the Ministry of Industries and Production, on Monday, for having a meeting with the ghee and oil manufacturers, in order to ensure that declining prices of palm oil and soyabean in the international market are translated in the domestic market for the benefit of the consumers.

The finance minister, while chairing a weekly meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC), pointed out that prices of palm oil and soyabean are on a declining trend in the international market but their impact on the domestic market has not been observed so far.

The finance minister said that the government would take action against those creating impediment or obstacles in this regard.

He directed the Ministry of Industries and Production to hold a meeting with ghee/edible oil manufacturers in order to transmit the declining trend of international oil prices to the local consumers.

He also directed the relevant departments to workout modalities to maintain strategic reserves of sugar and wheat to ensure smooth supply at affordable price during the upcoming financial year.

He further directed to initiate international procurement of wheat and sugar through public, private, and G2G arrangements.

The secretary finance briefed the meeting and informed that the weekly SPI increased by 0.28 percent for the week ended on June 17, 2021, after a three-week consecutive decline.

The meeting was told that the prices of nine items declined, 21 items slightly increased, and 21 items remained stable.

The finance minister noted that a declining trend was observed in the prices of most of the items in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), and also directed the provincial governments to mobilise their teams in order to provide relief to the common man by strict monitoring of prices.

The managing director (MD) Utility Stores Corporation (USC) informed the meeting about the progress to increase the existing USC outlets all over the country.

The finance minister directed the MD USC that in consultation with the government of Balochistan, he should work out a detailed plan of establishing USC outlets across Balochistan at the spots where maximum consumers may benefit by the essential items at subsidised rates.

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research gave a detailed presentation regarding the production cycle of perishable items such as tomatoes, potatoes, and onions along with pulses.

The meeting was told that two-third demand of the pulses is being fulfilled through imports, which necessitates building strategic reserves to ensure smooth supply to achieve price stability and reduce international dependence.

The ministry was directed to prepare emergency plan for establishing cold storages and warehouses in key areas, where perishable food items are produced, and also explore feasible options of collaboration of Public Private Partnership model in this regard.

Chief Secretary Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa briefed the meeting about the value chain analysis of essential items.

The chair noted that there is a huge margin of profit being earned by the wholesalers who purchase from the farmers and directed provincial governments of Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan to present the value chain analysis of essential items in the upcoming NPMC and corrective measures to ease out price hike.

The finance minister was briefed that as per international commodities’ prices comparison published by the World Bank (WB) the international price of sugar has increased by 58.3 percent (year-on-year), soyabean oil price increased 119.20 percent in year-on-year, and 23.5 percent during the last month of May over April 2021.

Furthermore, the international price trend in palm oil indicates an increase of 102.6 percent (year-on-year) and 7.9 percent during the last month.

The meeting was told that given the international trend, the domestic price hike was impossible to be voided as Pakistan is the net importer of staple food commodities such as wheat, sugar, edible oil, and pulses etc.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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