NPMC mulls ways to curb rising inflation

Officials cite gap in supply and demand due to climatic factors, upward trend in int'l prices and increased profit margin between wholesalers and retailers as reason behind rising inflation 

ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) was held in the Finance Division on Monday to review the prices of essential perishable commodities.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting, where National Food Security Minister Syed Fakhar Imam, Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser to PM on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, Special Assistant to PM on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, secretaries of NFS&R, planning, industries & production divisions, chief secretaries of Punjab, Sindh, Khuber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, Competition Commission of Pakistan chairperson and representatives of Utility Stores Corp and Pakistan Bureau of Statistics were also present.

The NPMC deliberated upon the recent increase in the prices of wheat, sugar and perishable items namely tomatoes, onions, potatoes and chicken, and discussed corrective measures to provide relief to the end consumers.

According to officials of the concerned ministries, reasons behind the price hike included gap in supply and demand due to climatic factors, upward trend in international prices and increased profit margin between wholesale and retailers, particularly in metropolitan areas. There was a general consensus that recent rains and Covid-19 have further aggravated the situation.

Finance Adviser Abdul Hafeez Shaikh urged all stakeholders to take drastic measures to curb inflation. In this regard, the role of district market committees was emphasised to curb price variation effectively.

The chief secretaries were directed to minimize price disparity by streamlining the release of wheat at regular intervals to avoid profiteering.

NPMC also reviewed the timeline for import of wheat and sugar to meet domestic demand for the same.

The finance adviser was briefed that the total public sector procurement for wheat through government-to-government and the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) is equal to 1.8 million tonnes based on the demand estimates provided by the provinces and PASSCO. It was also stated that sufficient sugar stocks are available in the country till Nov 2020.

Moreover, Hafeez Shaikh directed the Utility Stores Corp to streamline the availability of essential items in order to provide maximum relief to the lowest strata of the society.

The adviser expressed confidence that effective and well-concerted actions by the provincial governments and the concerned ministries will help in controlling the menace of inflation.

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