Provinces directed to keep check on food prices

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has directed the provincial governments as well as other concerned authorities to take immediate proactive measures to keep the prices of basic commodities in check.

He gave these directions while chairing a meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) on Monday.

The NPMC reviewed the weekly price trend of essential commodities, namely wheat flour, sugar, tomatoes, onions, vegetable ghee, potatoes and chicken.

The finance secretary, while presenting the price trend of essential commodities, informed the meeting that according to the latest data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, there was a decline in the prices of wheat flour, sugar and onions, whereas a slight increase was witnessed in the prices of tomatoes, potatoes and chicken.

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The committee was also informed about the price variation among the provinces and the profit margin between wholesale and the retail.

The chair held a detailed discussion with the provincial chief secretaries regarding the position of wheat and sugar stocks in their respective provinces. It was informed that sufficient quantities were available across the country.

During the meeting, the finance adviser urged the representatives of the provincial governments to strictly monitor the difference between retail and wholesale prices in various commodities to ensure availability of essential items for consumers at affordable prices.

The Sindh chief secretary on the occasion informed the meeting that flour and sugar prices have declined in the province. He further informed that the Sindh government has established fair price shops to provide relief to the general public. However, he added, the prices chicken were on the rise, for which they were taking corrective measures accordingly.

Meanwhile, the Punjab additional chief secretary said that the prices of tomatoes were fluctuating due to seasonal factors, but they would stabilize in the coming weeks. He briefed the meeting that the prices in 360 Sahulat Bazars were low as compared to the open market, adding that the flour price has stabilised as the Punjab government was releasing wheat as per the policy.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary briefed the meeting that they were releasing 5,000 tonnes of wheat on a daily basis, owing to which the prices of flour bags have come down Rs20-Rs30 in the market. It was informed that local production of tomatoes in KP has started reaching the market; it is expected that in coming weeks the supply of tomatoes would increase significantly which would bring a significant decline in the price.

The Punjab and the Sindh governments also briefed about the new crushing season of sugarcane and underlined that the price of sugar would be reduced further due to availability of the local produce in the coming months.

Moreover, Utility Stores Corporation MD apprised the meeting about the sufficient stocks of sugar and wheat across Pakistan at subsidized price.

Industries & Production Minister Hammad Azhar, Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood and SAPM on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood also participated in the meeting.

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