ISLAMABAD: The government is likely to import edible oil/ghee on the pattern of sugar and wheat aimed at facilitating supply to reduce prices in the local market, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.
This plan was discussed at a recent meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) presided over by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin. He also expressed anger over the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) for not taking action against Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (PVMA) to break its cartelization.
“The Finance Minister directed that Ministry of Industries and Production, CCP and FBR take strict action against cartelisation in vegetable ghee sector and workout possibility of import of vegetable ghee/edible oil to facilitate domestic supply and control its price to make it affordable for consumers” the sources added.
The Finance Ministry has been apprised that some key CCP decision makers have “vested interests” in ghee/edible oil industry due to which action is not being taken despite the fact the CCP has convincing official record of cartelization in this sector.
Secretary Finance briefed NPMC members and stated that SPI for the week ended on 5th August has been recorded at 0.12 percent. Prices of 11 items declined, 23 items remained stable and prices of 17 items increased slightly.
The Finance Minister directed that Secretary Finance to hold a consultative meeting with provincial Chief Secretaries and PBS to sort out data issues, if any, prior to NPMC meeting; Provincial governments need to take necessary actions, where prices of essential items are higher.
Secretary Finance also elaborated on the price movement of food and fuel items in international market. It was observed that prices of palm oil increased by 4.7 percent, soyabean oil 3.4 percent and crude oil 1.8 percent in July 2021 over the previous month while wheat prices decreased by 8.8 percent and rice prices by 9.5 percent. Finance Minister also showed concern at the huge profit margin in sale of essential items in Punjab.
Secretary NFS&R highlighted that prices of wheat are higher in the international market and the major chunk of imported wheat, approved by ECC, would arrive in September, while the international market will presumably remain stable as per past practice. Chief Secretary Punjab said that price of wheat is stabilizing due to the timely decision of importing wheat and at present wheat reserves are enough to meet demand.
Tarin directed that the Ministry of National Food Security and Research under the supervision of SAPM on NFS&R formulates a strategy on building strategic reserves of essential items to maintain its supply and control price hike in the country.
Ministry of Industries & Production revealed that it has already notified the price of sugar in the last week, however, court has issued stay order against it; Finance Minister directed TCP to import sugar as per the timeline of ECC and in compliance with the Cabinet decision.
Secretary Industries & Production, Kamran Afzal noted that under the Rules of Business sugar related matters are the mandate of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research. During the meeting Petroleum Division was instructed to present and share comparison of previous week’s stock position of petroleum products in every NFMC meeting; and directed to prepare feasibility for expanding the USC outlets across Balochistan keeping in view suitable locations so that maximum people can benefit from it.
The meeting decided that Secretary MNFS&R would hold a meeting with Secretary Industries & Production, Secretary Commerce and Chairman TCP to workout strategic reserves of sugar and also expedite its import to prevent its shortage in domestic market till end November, 2021.
It was decided that Petroleum Division would present previous week’s stock position of petroleum products in every NPMC meeting along with the comparison of last year with the current week.
Secretary Finance would also hold a consultative meeting with provincial Chief Secretaries and PBS to sort out data issues, if any prior to NPMC meeting. Provincial governments will take necessary action where prices of essential items are higher.
The meeting was attended by the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on NFS&R and SAPM on Finance & Revenue, Provincial Chief Secretaries, Secretary NFS&R, Secretary Industries & Production, Chairman FBR, Additional Secretary Mb o PD&SI, Chief Commissioner ICT, Chairperson CCP, MD USC, MD Passco, Chairman TCP, DDG National Accounts PBS, representative of Petroleum Division and senior officers of the Finance Division.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021