ISLAMABAD: Minister for Commerce, Jam Kamal has proposed imposition of complete ban on export of livestock, sugar, wheat, onion, banana, and rice to stabilize their prices in the country, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

He floated this proposal during a meeting of Price Control Coordination Committee presided over by Minister for Interior, Syed Mohsin Naqvi on March 19, 2024.

The Minister for Interior explained the purpose of the meeting to all participants reiterating the Government’s commitment to providing essential items at affordable prices during the Holy month of Ramadan.

Ban on export of banana, onion slapped

The Special Secretary elucidated the composition and mandate of the Committee. The Ministry of Interior has established certain parameters for all stakeholders to submit their reports on a weekly basis: (i) Ramadan Package distribution; (ii) price trends with reasons for major deviations; and (iii) inspections and price checking, raids, challans, and arrests.

He also briefed the attendees on the previous week’s Sensitive Price Index (SPI) by the Bureau of Statistics of Pakistan. The SPI comprises 51 essential items collected from 50 markets in 17 cities across the country. Prices of 18 items increased by 35.29%, while prices of 10 items decreased by 19.6%. The major increases were observed in tomato (21.96%) and banana (21.76 %).

Secretary of National Food Security and Research explained that the ministry has a dedicated dashboard to monitor the weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual stock of imports and exports, as well as the stock of sugar and wheat. There is sufficient stock of wheat and sugar to last through the upcoming harvesting season. The ministry maintains constant communication with the Bureau of Statistics and the crop reporting departments of provinces regarding estimated and achieved crop targets. Punjab has raised concerns about banana exports, leading to a ban until 15th April 2024, triggered by a 20 percent difference in wholesale and retail price.

The Minister for Commerce highlighted a complete ban on the export of livestock, sugar, wheat, onion, banana, and rice. And announced a Ramadan package distributed through utility stores nationwide. The price of sugar is regulated by the Industry Department, and there have been no complaints regarding sugar shortages.

The Secretary of Agriculture, Punjab, discussed the availability and prices of onion, tomato, and potato. Potatoes are locally grown in Districts Sahiwal and Okara and are abundant. Onions and tomatoes come from Sindh, with sufficient supply as 200 trucks arrive daily. The Secretary of Industry mentioned the notification of additional price magistrates and the launch of the Qeemat app and E-Pay system for fine deposits. Regular meetings between DCs and wholesale dealers are held. A Ramadan package has been announced for 6.9 million households, with 3.9 million food hampers distributed. Additionally, 36 Model Bazars and 15 Ramadan Bazars have been established.

Chief Secretary, Sindh announced Rs 22 billion allocated for 4.4 million households, with Rs5000 per family distributed. Everything else is under control, with the federal government considering offloading onion shipments ready for export.

The Additional Chief Secretary, Home, KPK reported that DCs had completed their preparations before Ramadan. The government has utilized Education Monitoring Teams for independent reporting on price control mechanisms. The Halal Food Authority ensures the quality of food items. DCs, ADCs, ACs, AACs, and DFCs regularly monitor prices to uphold government regulations.

Chief Secretary Balochistan stated that 36 Ramadan Bazars were established across the province, with a complaint and redressal system set up in the Chief Secretary’s office.

Wrapping the meeting, Minister for Interior appreciated the efforts of all stakeholders in ensuring the price stabilization in Ramadan, and their preventative measures for the availability of essential food items in the market, and urged all stakeholders to feel free to contact the Ministry of Interior for assistance in controlling the prices of essential items.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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Pakistan Mar 23, 2024 12:00pm
Great Step. We should implement it for the whole year. just like india we should meet local demand first
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Cool boy Mar 23, 2024 12:00pm
Funny that sifc people are still trying to sell agriculture to foreigners. If Pakistan doesn't have enough food for it's population what are they going to export?
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Taha Mar 23, 2024 11:27pm
Anti export bias runs deep
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Mona Mar 24, 2024 11:00am
Efficient price control round the year on essentials and all the other items is needed. Price Apps are a good initiative however price control authority's physical presence should also be visible.
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