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ISLAMABAD: The Caretaker Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Muhammad Sami Saeed has directed the provincial governments and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) to curtail the gap between wholesale and retail prices.

The minister also directed the provincial governments and ICT administration to vigorously pursue smooth availability of essential items, especially in the preview of the upcoming Ramazan and report the demand and supply situation of specific commodities used in Ramadan in the upcoming meeting.

The minister gave these directions while chairing a meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) to review the prices of essential commodities on Tuesday.

The meeting was attended by the representatives of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Climate Change, provincial governments, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Trading Corporation of Pakistan, Utility Stores Corporation, PASSCO, and administration of ICT.

The PBS chief statistician presented an overview of the price situation in the country for the week ended on 11th January 2024 and apprised the meeting that SPI increased by 1.4 percent over previous week week-over-week (WoW) and increased to 44.2 percent over the corresponding week previous year.

He explained that the current spike in SPI is driven by perishable items including tomatoes and onions and poultry products such as chicken and eggs. During this week, prices of 21 items increased and those of eight items decreased while prices of 22 items remained stable. A decline was observed in the prices of food items such as potatoes, vegetable ghee, and sugar. The prices of tomatoes, onion, chicken, eggs and electricity observed an increase during the reference week.

In response, the representatives of the provincial Food and Industries Departments of Punjab, Sindh, and KP explained that strict monitoring of prices has been ensured through heavy fines, raids, and sealing of high-charging shops. They said that despite supply issues of perishable items due to extreme weather conditions, the issue of climate change has become more important. Administration of Punjab is taking measures by sensitising deputy commissioners across the province to control prices.

The minister advised PBS to present a detailed report on active usage of Decision Support System on Inflation (DSSI) by provincial/district authorities for price monitoring and checking profiteering and hoarding.

The minister directed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to engage with the Pakistan Poultry Association to identify and resolve the supply issues of poultry products.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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