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ISLAMABAD: The Price Monitoring Committee (PMC) has directed Ministry of Industries and Production (MoI&P) to prepare a financially viable plan for restructuring of Utility Stores Corporation (USC) by considering the option of Public Private Partnership (PPP) for improving its efficiency, official sources told Business Recorder.

These directions were issued at a recent meeting of the committee, which met with Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin in the chair.

Finance Minister desired that Ministry of NFS&R remains vigilant in the procurement of wheat in order to avoid future shortage. Secretary NFS&R noted that due to higher procurement price announced by the government of Sindh Passco would not able to fulfil its procurement target. The chair directed Passco with coordination of the government of Punjab, Sindh and all other stakeholders to prepare wheat procurement plan in such a way as to have the optimal wheat stock position for coming season.

The meeting also reviewed the sugar stock position and recent week’s spike witnessed in the sugar price. Chief Secretary Punjab stated that despite close liaison with the sugar millers along with a bumper crop this year, the price of sugar is on a slightly rising trend. The Chair directed Government of Punjab and Sindh to take strict actions against the collusion of sugar industry and other stakeholders to control artificial price hike of sugar.

While comparing the price of Sasta bazaar with retail market of essential items, it was noted by the forum that price differential in Punjab, lCT, KP and Balochistan is much lower and Sindh is also doing well. The Chair appreciated the efforts of all provinces and ICT administration in this regard. Further, the meeting also discussed the wholesale and retail gap amongst the provinces and appreciated efforts taken to minimise the gap. Moreover, in comparison to neighbouring countries, Pakistan remained far cheaper in all essential items.

Covid-19 pandemic: USC providing subsidy on 5 essential commodities

The meeting also discussed the study undertaken by PIDE to determine the share of consumption of branded and non-branded ghee. It was noted by the representative from PIDE that their study is based on HIES survey and the conclusion was that 36 percent of the population consumes non-branded and 64 percent consumes branded ghee in the country. However, the additional Secretary Industries &Production showed his reservation on the outcome of the study because it was not based on actual import data. The Chair directed PIDE to conduct a research study to find out the consumption share of the branded and non-branded ghee in the country keeping in view actual import data of edible oil and ghee.

The chair showed concern over the rising price of milk in the country. Minister for NFS&R informed that milk is being processed by two big companies with a huge market share. The chair directed M/o NFS&R to work out suitable plan for optimal level in milk prices in order to ensure its smooth and sustainable supply in the market.

During the discussion on the working performance of USC the chair proposed the idea that USC’s should be restructured in a way that targeted subsidies must reach the lower segments of society. The chair directed Ministry of Industries & production to prepare a financially viable plan for restructuring of USCs by considering the option of Public Private Partnership (PPP) for improving its efficiency.

Economic Adviser briefed the NPMC that SPI for the week ended on December 23, 2021, recorded an increase of 0.40 percent as compared to an increase of 0.55 percent the week before. The meeting was also apprised that prices of 5 items declined, 23 items remained stable and prices of 23 items increased slightly. He further added that prices of potatoes, chilies powder, onions, gur and wheat flour have decreased and contributed 0.12 percent to the decline of SPI during the week under review. The meeting noted that SPI for the week under consideration increased on account of spike witnessed in the prices of ladies’ sandals, tomatoes, LPG, eggs and other items which contributed 0.52 percent increase in SPI.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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