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ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has directed Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research to work out modalities for establishing commodity warehouses, storage facilities and agri-malls on the basis of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and present to the committee.

The finance minister was chairing a meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC). Major proportion of the time was consumed in making comparison in difference between the prices of sugar soyabean and palm oil in the international vis-à-vis domestic prices, and blaming increase in international prices as reason for increase in domestic prices of commodities - wheat, sugar and palm oil prices in the country.

The finance minister stressed the importance of meaningful interventions in the market by building strategic reserves of basic commodities namely wheat, sugar, edible oil/ghee, vegetables and pulses to prevent hoarding and undue profiteering.

The government will flood the markets with necessary commodities to bridge the supply and demand gap where needed to check price hike. Pakistan is the net importer of key food items such as wheat, sugar, and pulses.

Tarin directs ministry to import 2m tons of wheat

The current upsurge in international food prices amid coronavirus pandemic makes it imperative to build strategic reserves of essential commodities to bring stability in prices of items of daily use. The secretary, Food Ministry, updated the NPMC about the availability of sufficient stocks of wheat in the country.

He also updated the Committee about the efforts underway regarding procurement of wheat. The chairman Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) apprised the meeting about the tenders floated in the international market for the purchase of wheat and sugar. The finance minister expressed satisfaction and directed to complete the procurement of wheat and sugar in phases, keeping in view, the prevailing international prices.

The finance minister also urged to look into financial hedging of risks with reference to import of key commodities.

While reviewing the current market price and stocks of sugar, the finance minister constituted a sub-committee comprising secretary Ministry of National Food, Secretary Industries Ministry, chairman FBR, chairman TCP, and a representative of the Ministry of Commerce to expedite import of 0.6 million metric ton of sugar to ensure a smooth supply across the country.

The chairperson CCP apprised the committee about the stern actions being taken to end cartelisation in the edible oil and ghee sector to ensure fair competition throughout the country. The finance minister directed the chairperson CCP to accelerate efforts and present a detailed report before the forum at the earliest.

Tarin for maintaining strategic reserves of essential commodities

Earlier, the secretary finance briefed the meeting on trends in weekly SPI. The meeting also reviewed the year-on-year international commodity prices and noted a massive price hike in major food items was witnessed with sugar a 44.4 percent increase, palm oil 52.3 percent, soyabean oil 78.8 percent, and wheat 18 percent respectively.

Correspondingly in the country, the sugar registered an increase of 19.33 percent, edible oil 27.25 percent, vegetable ghee 29.40 percent, and wheat 11.77 percent respectively. The government absorbed the pressure by giving subsidies and importing staple food items in order to provide maximum relief to the consumers.

Similarly, there was enormous increase in the price of crude oil by 73.8 percent on international level, whereas, the government reduced levy on petrol and petroleum-based products. The coronavirus pandemic has played havoc with global food prices due to supply chain disruptions.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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