Provinces directed to check hoarding, black marketing of essential commodities

ISLAMABAD: Finance and Revenue Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, while chairing a meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) on Monday, directed the provincial secretaries to check possibilities of hoarding and black marketing, particularly with regard to wheat and sugar, in order to ensure uninterrupted provision of commodities at fair prices.

Industries & Production Minister Hammad Azhar, Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Special Assistant to PM on Revenue Waqar Masood Khan, provincial chief secretaries, FBR chairman, federal secretaries, along with representatives of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP), Trading Corporation of Pakistan, PASSCO and Utility Store Corporation also participated in the meeting.

The NPMC reviewed the price trend of essential commodities, especially wheat, sugar and edible oil. The finance secretary briefed the meeting about the decline in Consumer Price Index, which was recorded at 8pc in December 2020 as compared to 12.6pc in December 2019. He attributed the improvement in figures to the “vigilant and regular monitoring of prices by NPMC”.

The committee noted a significant decline in food inflation, as urban food inflation declined by 2.1pc while rural dropped by 3.4pc on a month-on-month basis. It was further informed that there was a 0.7pc decline in weekly Sensitive Price Index. Prices of 10 essential food commodities — tomatoes, onions, potatoes and chicken — had reduced notably during the Dec 24-31 period.

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Speaking on the occasion, the chair emphasised the need to increase the level of coordination among federal and provincial authorities in order to identify demand and supply gaps, and to take immediate remedial measures to ensure uninterrupted supply of items of daily use at affordable prices.

Meanwhile, the NPMC took notice of price variation in wheat flour across Sindh and Balochistan, as identified by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. The finance minister directed the chief secretaries to regulate smooth supply of wheat throughout the provinces by increasing daily release, if needed, and submit a comprehensive report in the next NPMC accordingly.

Industries and Production Minister Hammad Azhar updated the NPMC about measures being taken to further reduce the prices of sugar and edible oil in consultation with stakeholders. Following the briefing, the chair directed the officials concerned to constitute a committee, to be headed by Industries & Production minister, to come up with a concerted course of action in this regard.

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