Tarin calls for providing relief to ghee, oil consumers

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on Monday directed the Ministry of Industries and Production (MoIP) to hold a meeting with ghee and edible oil manufacturers and help transmit the declining trend of international oil prices to local consumers.
The federal finance minister was presiding over the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) meeting held at the Finance Division on Monday. SAPM on Finance and Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, secretary Finance Division, additional secretary M/o NFS&R, secretary Commerce, additional secretary M/o PD&SI, member PBS, commissioner Islamabad, chief secretaries of the provincial governments and other senior officers participated in the meeting.

Tarin highlighted that prices of palm oil and soybean are on declining trend in the international market but its impact on the domestic market so far has not been observed. “The government will take strict action if any obstacle is observed anywhere in the country,” the minister said.

It may be mentioned here that per kilogram and per litre price of branded ghee and cooking oil respectively are between Rs320 and 330, while that of unbranded category range from Rs270 and Rs320.

The meeting was briefed that as per international commodities’ prices comparison published by the World Bank, the international price of sugar has increased by 58.3 per cent year-on-year (YoY). Similarly, the international price of soybean oil increased to whopping 119.20pc YoY in comparison whereas increased by 23.5pc during April and May.

The Covid-19 pandemic has played havoc with the international supply-chain scenario and fueled food inflation all over the globe. Furthermore, the international price trend in palm oil indicates an increase of 102.6pc YoY and 7.9pc during the last month.

Going by the aforesaid international trend, the domestic price hike could not be avoided as Pakistan is the net importer of staple food commodities like wheat, sugar, edible oil, pulses etc.

The government has taken all possible measures to provide maximum relief to the masses during pandemic-induced global food inflation crisis, the meeting was briefed.

Finance Secretary Yousuf Khan briefed the meeting and informed that the weekly SPI increased by 0.28pc for the week ended on June 17, after three weeks of consecutive decline.
He apprised the movement of essential items during last six weeks as well as price comparison among the provinces and ICT.
Tarin noted that prices in ICT are declining in most of the items and appreciated the efforts of ICT administration and directed the provincial governments to mobilise their teams in order to provide relief to common man by strict monitoring of prices.

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research gave a detailed presentation regarding the production cycle of perishable items including tomatoes, potatoes and onions. The meeting was informed that two-thirds of the pulses demand is being fulfilled through imports thus there is need to build strategic reserves to ensure smooth supply, achieve price stability and reduce international dependence.

The food ministry was directed to prepare an emergency plan for establishing cold storages and warehouses in key areas where perishable food items are produced and also explore feasible options of collaboration including the Public-Private Partnership model in this regard.

The Utility Stores Corporation (USC) MD informed the forum that work was being done on a nati­onal plan of extending number of USC outlets. Tarin directed him to work out detailed plan for establishing stores acro­ss the province at spots where maxi­mum consumers may benefit by the essential items at subsidised rates, in consultation with the government of Balochistan.

In his concluding remarks, the finance minister stressed that the fovernment is fully cognizant of its responsibility regarding provision of essential items at affordable prices across the board.

“Keeping in view the fact that Pakistan is a net importer of food, the government has taken all out measures to provide essential items through a network of Saasta Baazars, hefty subsidies through chain of Utility Stores outlets under the Ramzan Package, and is taking strict administrative measures to keep prices of basic items in check,” he said.

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