ISLAMABAD: The Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on Monday directed the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to regularly compare the difference in wholesale and retail prices of essential food items in 39 major cities across the country.
He made these remarks while charing an introductory meeting with Secretary Planning, Development and Special Initiatives to evaluate the current techniques of data collection and analysis used by the PBS. The meeting was attended by SAPM on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, Member PBS Muhammad Sarwar Gondal, Economic Adviser Dr Imtiaz Ahmad and senior officials of the Finance Division.
The chief statistician gave a detailed briefing to the new minister on evidence-based data collection techniques followed by the bureau in compiling figures, particularly for CPI and SPI.
The minister appreciated the technology-based data gathering techniques followed by the Bureau after doing away with the paper-based approach and directed them to follow such methods that could further assist in making the data more objective, targeted and authentic for the purpose of comparison and analysis.
The DSSI was introduced in January to record gap between actual prices of essential food items and rates fixed by the district administrations. Currently, it was recording the gap in 17 cities across the country.
Tarin asked PBS to increase the number of cities to 36 from the existing 17.
The chief statistician also apprised the minister of the changes they are about to introduce in the system to make it more comprehensive.
Tarin said that addressing the root cause of inflation with devising a new hierarchy of administrative control will provide the most needed relief to the masses.
He assigned the PBS to adopt a practice of regularly comparing the difference in wholesale and retail prices of essential food items in different districts across the country.
PBS will highlight the difference in prices in different provinces as well. The minister said that the data is available on a real-time basis on the PBS dashboard will help in maintaining the strategic reserves of the essential commodities across the country.
The meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) is expected to take place within a week’s time and PBS will share its data analysis report in the upcoming meeting of NPMC.