ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) presided over by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin Monday directed the Ministry of National Food, Security and Research to take immediate steps for import of two million tons of wheat to ensure adequate stocks in the country.
The meeting, in the light of briefing by the Ministry of Industries and Production and the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, reviewed the price trend in the country.
The NPMC also reviewed the prices of wheat, sugar, pulses, chicken, and other essential food items in the country.
The secretary finance briefed the meeting about the uptick in the weekly SPI by 0.03 percent during the week under review as prices of six items witnessed a decline and 22 remained stable.
The Committee also reviewed the monthly inflation trend and noted that the CPI, which is 8.4 percent for July 2021, has declined by 1.3 percent compared to last month’s 9.7 percent.
The secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research updated the Committee about the wheat procurement process, and stated that order for purchase of 220,000 ton of wheat has already been placed.
While taking stock of the situation, the NPMC directed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to take immediate steps for the import of two million tons of wheat to ensure adequate stocks in the country.
The secretary Ministry of Industries and Production briefed the NPMC about the efforts underway for import of 600,000 tons of sugar for maintaining buffer stocks.
The tendering process has been initiated and adequate stocks of sugar will be available in the country until the next sugar season, he added.
The NPMC directed the Ministry of Industries and Production to expedite the tendering process and update the Committee on a weekly basis.
The finance minister reiterated the government’s commitment to build strategic reserves of essential commodities (sugar, wheat, pulses, edible oil/ghee etc) to ensure price stability and prevent undue profiteering and hoarding.
The strategic reserves would ensure timely availability of basic commodities to bridge the gap between supply and demand.
To this effect, the finance minister directed the secretary, Ministry of National Food Security to come up with a firm plan and place before the committee for discussion and requisite approval.
The meeting was also briefed by the finance secretary about prices of petroleum products in the neighbouring countries.
The meeting noted that per unit cost of petrol and electricity is cheapest in Pakistan as compared to the regional economies.
The meeting was told that the government has absorbed the pressure in order to provide maximum relief to the consumers.
The finance minister directed the Petroleum Division to analyse the impact of the current escalation in LNG prices on the consumption of other fuels in order to look for alternatives and ensure availability of sufficient stocks.
He also highlighted the rising trend in international commodity prices amid the Covid-19 pandemic and stressed the efforts being made for keeping the prices of essential items in check.
The finance minister further stated that any assistance, financial or otherwise, needed in this regard will be provided to the respective provincial administrations and departments concerned for effective monitoring, and to lessen the burden of price fluctuation due to international price hike.
The meeting was attended by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Fakhar Imam, SAPM on Finance and Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, secretary Finance Division, SAPM National Food Security and Research Jamshed Cheema, secretary Ministry of NFS&R, secretary Commerce, additional secretary Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, chief secretaries of the provincial governments, member PBS, chief commissioner Islamabad, chairman CDA, and other senior officers participated.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021