Islamabad: The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC), on Wednesday, directed the provincial chief secretaries to resume daily release of wheat at the federal government’s determined price of Rs 1,950 per 40kg to ensure smooth supply of wheat at affordable prices across the country.
The meeting presided over by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin discussed the overall prices situation of commodities in the country.
The secretary finance briefed the participants that an upsurge in international food prices is affecting the domestic prices as Pakistan is a net importer of staple food items namely wheat, sugar, ghee etc.
The international price hike is due to fall in global food production and high consumption demand coupled with supply chain disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The finance minister directed the chairman FBR to work out a strategy to ensure measurable impact on prices of ghee/edible oil in domestic markets as volatile prices of edible oil in international market have pushed up the local prices of ghee/vegetable in the country.
There is a need to have a sliding scale to link up prices of ghee in the local markets with the international markets, he added.
While taking stock of the weekly calculation of the SPI, the finance minister urged Member Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to review its methodology and extend coverage by including footprint of Saasta/Itwar bazaars in mainstream cities where upward pressure on prices of food items is absorbed through provision of food items at subsidised rates.
The meeting noted that at present, the significant price differential between wholesale and retail prices in Saasta Sahulat Bazaars is not covered by the PBS.
The secretary Ministry of Industries and Production briefed the committee about the arrangements being made to import sugar with respective timelines.
The NPMC directed the chief secretary, Punjab to make requisite arrangements to lift the imported sugar stock earliest to ensure smooth supply of sugar to other provinces and chain of USCs as per demand.
The Committee directed the provincial governments to ensure sale of sugar in the market at the price fixed by the government.
The SAPM on Food Security apprised the NPMC that a detailed strategy would be presented before the NPMC to build strategic reserves of pulses as well as perishable commodities in order to stabilise prices of the items of daily use.
The detailed strategy, the meeting was told, would also include provision of enabling infrastructure including agri malls, storage facilities, and commodity warehouses.
He also mentioned the plan to purchase pulses from farmers through PASSCO and food department to supply pulses at lower prices through the USCs to the consumers and also specified bazaars.
Moreover, the SAPM underlined to grow sugar beet as an additional crop to ensure steady supply of sugar at a fair price throughout the year.
The meeting was attended by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, Federal Minister for Industries and Production Khusro Bakhtiar, Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, secretary Finance Division, secretary Petroleum, secretary Ministry of Industries and Production, provincial chief secretaries, chairman FBR, chief commissioner Islamabad Capital Territory, member PBS, and other senior officers.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Food Security Jamshed Cheema attended the meeting through video-link.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021