The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) has asked the Ministry of National Food Security & Research to consult provincial governments and remain vigilant to control wheat/flour and sugar prices and take immediate measures to ensure the provision of these items at affordable prices.
NPMC’s meeting chaired by secretary finance today also called for the provincial governments to provide support to market committees in collaboration with district administration by removing the price disparity among the provinces and also ensuring the smooth supply of essential items.
The meeting discussed the price trend of essential food items. Representatives from the provincial governments, Islamabad Capital Territory, Ministries of Industries, Commerce, Law and Justice, Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, National Food Security & Research, Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC), Competition Commission of Pakistan, Cabinet Division and Pakistan Bureau of Statistics were present.
The meeting was informed that CPI inflation year on year was recorded at 9.3% in July 2020. It was noticed that Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) which monitors the price movement of 51 essential items on a weekly basis recorded a decline of 0.22% last week.
This was the second consecutive decline in SPI during August 2020 which augurs well to tame inflationary pressure in the country. During the week, 11 items recorded a decline in their prices while 22 items remained stable.
Provincial governments and ICT informed the meeting that they were regularly monitoring the prices and taking strict action against hoarding and profiteering. The government, in consultation with all stakeholders, is proactively taking measures to control the general price of daily use items at the federal, provincial, and district levels. The committee also discussed price movements of essential items among the provinces/ICT and observed variations. It was decided that all provincial governments and ICT administration will take proactive measures to control the undue price hike of essential items in the market.
Utility Store Corporation (USC) informed that the corporation was procuring stock of commodities (Pulses/Rice) through open competitive bidding. The Tender Committee at the time of opening of bids/tenders examines the samples thoroughly to ensure the selection of good quality products as per prescribed specifications.
Hence the commodities procured are strictly monitored and checked randomly to ensure the provision of quality items. Surprise inspections are also carried out to examine the stocks at Warehouses. The chairperson directed to further strengthen the quality control mechanism of essential items at Utility Stores.
It was also noted that the profit margin between wholesale and retail is huge in items like Apples, Bananas, Gram Pulse, Mash Pulse, Masoor Pulse, Tomatoes, and Onions. The chairman urged that provincial governments should take corrective measures to check undue profit margin. PBS was also directed to share the province wise margin between wholesalers and retailers so that provinces may take prompt action against anti-market practices.
Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) gave a detailed presentation on the structure of the sugar and poultry industry and their existing price mechanism. The Chair directed CCP to provide an action plan with concrete recommendations to check anti-market practices in these sectors.
While concluding the meeting the chairperson emphasized that the provision of essential commodities at affordable prices is the foremost agenda of the government. The provinces should take strict action against hoarding, adulteration, smuggling, and over-due profiteering to ensure an uninterrupted supply of daily use items to masses at lower prices and the federal government will provide all possible cooperation in this regard for the stability of prices in the country.