Dar expresses concerns over rising meat, pulses and sugar prices

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Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Friday expressed concern over the increase in prices of meat, chickpeas, sugar, eggs, garlic and milk powder and directed the provinces and ministries to take steps to control the situation.

The National Price Monitoring Committee meeting was held under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

The meeting was attended by the representatives from the provinces, Islamabad Capital Territory, Ministries of Industries, Law and Justice, Commerce, National Food Security, Cabinet, Planning, Inter Provincial Coordination, Statistics Division, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Utility Stores Corporation and Federal Board of Revenue.

The meeting noted the increasing trend in the prices of eggs, garlic, milk powder (NIDO), beef, mutton and chickpeas. The minister expressed concerns on a increase in the trend of these food commodities and directed the Ministry of National Food Security and Competition Commission of Pakistan to closely monitor the situation, control the undeclared monopoly, take corrective measures and stop any cartelization, particularly in milk and meat products, as well as mitigate any expected rise in prices of the pulses.

For chickpeas, he directed the food ministry and the USC to carry out inter-ministerial consultations with all stakeholders in order to address any abnormal spike in prices.

He expressed concerns about the slight increase in the prices of sugar and directed the commerce ministry to vigilantly monitor the prices and if there is any erratic movement, then take appropriate remedial actions.

With regard to prices of beef and mutton, he directed the Ministry of National Food Security to take on board all the stakeholders and take corrective measures to curb smuggling. He advised provincial governments to be more vigilant to control prices.

The meeting was informed that the headline inflation measured by the CPI increased by 3.7 percent in December 2016 as compared to 3.8 percent of the previous month and 3.2 percent of December last year.

On average, during Jul-Dec FY 2017, it is recorded at 3.88 percent as compared to 2.08 percent in the corresponding period last year. The CPI is tamed down and in control. The other inflationary indicators have also been contained.

The meeting noted a continuous decline of the SPI since last week of November 2016. It recorded continuous six weeks decline which has brought food inflation to 3.0 percent in December 2016 as compared to 3.3 percent of previous month, while non-food inflation remained at the same level of previous month at 4.2 percent, whereas core inflation increased by 5.2 percent as compared to 5.3 percent of previous months; the SPI and the WPI in December recorded at 0.5 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively, compared to 0.6 percent and 2.6 percent of the previous month.

The meeting noted the price movement of essential items on month on month and year on year basis. It was observed that prices of wheat, wheat flour, chicken, onion, tomatoes, cooking oil, vegetable ghee, masoor pulse, moong pulse, mash pulse decreased in December 2016 as compared to the corresponding month of the last year.

Prices of cooking oil, loose vegetable ghee, vegetable ghee (tin), chicken, banana, tomatoes, rice basmati, rice, and mustard oil are much lower than 2013 prices.

The meeting also reviewed the regional price comparison of essential commodities among Islamabad, New Delhi and Dhaka, and observed that the prices of nine items which include wheat, wheat flour, chicken farm, petrol, diesel, rice basmati, sugar, mash pulse and beef are lowest in Pakistan as compared to New Delhi and Dhaka; and second lowest in nine items which include onions, masoor pulse, moong pulse, eggs, chickpeas, vegetable ghee, milk fresh, red chillies and tomatoes.

The meeting noted that the prices among the provinces are stable.