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Finally Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the government will announce the measures to be taken to reduce prices of basic food items after a federal cabinet meeting scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday).

In a series of tweets here on Sunday, the prime minister said: "I understand the difficulties ordinary people [including] salaried class are confronting and have decided, come what may, my government will be announcing various measures that will be taken to reduce prices of basic food items for the common man in cabinet on Tuesday".

In a subsequent tweet, he shared that all the relevant government agencies have begun an "in-depth probe" into the hike in flour and sugar prices. "The nation should rest assured that all those responsible will be held accountable and penalised," he added.

According to a report released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) last week, the inflation rate had risen to 14.6 percent in January from 12.6 percent in previous month, scaling the highest level in 12 years.

Inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), edged up 1.97pc over the previous month. Last time, the highest inflation in the country was recorded at 17pc in the year 2007-08.

The data released showed that higher food prices, particularly of wheat and flour, pulses, sugar, gur and edible oil, were the largest driver of overall inflation in January.

Taking notice of widespread criticism of the government over unprecedented inflation in the country, Prime Minister Khan on Saturday had directed members of his economic team to take immediate steps to bring down the prices of basic food commodities especially wheat, wheat flour, sugar, rice and pulses within a fortnight.

According to sources, the prime minister had said that 'if a government could not provide relief and basic commodities to the masses, it had no right to stay in power'.

In the meeting at the premier's Banigala residence , the sources said, the participants including Finance Adviser Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar, Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Special Assistant to the PM (SAPM) on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar, senior PTI leaders Jahangir Tareen and Shahbaz Gill and the chairman of the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) reviewed the demand and supply position of the basic food items.

They said the prime minister had categorically told the economic team that he wanted to see the prices of essential commodities coming down quickly and that he wanted results in just 15 days.

Prime Minister Khan was of the opinion that inflation was the result of corruption and plundering of the previous governments. The PM lauded the performance of USC and said it did a remarkable job during the flour crisis as its sales increased by 800 percent. He underlined the need for improving the corporation's infrastructure and assured provision of more funds to it in order to ensure availability of basic food items.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020


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