Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin, presided over the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) held at the Finance Division today.
Among others, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, Federal Minister for Industries and Production Khusro Bakhtiar, Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Secretary Finance Division, Secretary Petroleum, Secretary M/o Industries & Production, Provincial Chief Secretaries, Chairman FBR, Chief Commissioner Islamabad Capital Territory, Member PBS and other senior officers participated in the meeting. SAPM on Food Security Jamshed Cheema joined through a video link.
The Secretary of Finance briefed the participants that an upsurge in international food prices is affecting the domestic prices as Pakistan is a net importer of staple food items namely wheat, sugar, ghee etc. The international price hike is due to a fall in global food production and high consumer demand coupled with supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While reviewing the prevailing ghee prices, the finance minister directed Chairman FBR to work out a strategy to ensure the measurable impact on prices of ghee/edible oil in domestic markets. The volatile prices of edible oil in the international market have pushed up the local prices of ghee/vegetable in the country. There is a need to have a sliding scale to link up prices of ghee in local markets with international markets, he added.
While taking stock of the weekly calculation of SPI, the finance minister urged Member PBS to review its methodology and extend coverage by including the footprint of Saasta/Itwar Bazaars in mainstream cities where upward pressure on prices of food items is absorbed through the provision of food items at subsidized rates. At present, the significant price differential between wholesale and retail prices in Saasta Sahulat Bazaars is not covered by PBS.
The NPMC directed the Provincial Chief Secretaries to resume daily release of wheat at the price determined by the Federal Government to ensure a smooth supply of wheat at affordable prices across the country. The Release price for wheat is Rs.1950 per 40kg.
Secretary M/o Industries and Production briefed the Committee about the arrangements being made to import sugar with respective timelines. The NPMC directed the Chief Secretary, Punjab to make requisite arrangements to lift the imported sugar stock at the earliest and ensure a smooth supply of sugar to other Provinces and chains of USCs as per demand. The Committee directed the Provincial governments to ensure the sale of sugar in the market at the price fixed by the Government.
The SAPM on Food Security apprised the NPMC that a detailed strategy will be presented before NPMC to build strategic reserves of pulses as well as perishable commodities to stabilize prices of the items of daily use. The detailed strategy will also include the provision of enabling infrastructure including Agri malls, storage facilities and commodity warehouses. He also mentioned the plan to purchase pulses from farmers through PASSCO and Food Department to supply pulses at lower prices through USCs to the consumers and specified Bazaars. Moreover, the SAPM underlined to grow sugar beet as an additional crop to ensure a steady supply of sugar at a fair price throughout the year.