Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Mr. Shaukat Tarin, chaired the meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) held at the Finance Division.
In his remarks, the Finance Minister stressed the importance of meaningful interventions in the market by building strategic reserves of basic commodities, namely wheat, sugar, edible oil/ghee, vegetables, and pulses, to prevent hoarding and undue profiteering.
The government will flood the markets with necessary commodities to bridge the supply and demand gap where needed, to check price hikes. Pakistan is the net importer of key food items such as wheat, sugar, and pulses. The current upsurge in international food prices amid the coronavirus pandemic makes it imperative to build strategic reserves of essential commodities to bring stability in the prices of items of daily use.
The Finance Minister directed Secretary M/o NFS&R to work out modalities for establishing commodity warehouses, storage facilities, and agri-malls on the basis of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and present a detailed proposal before the Committee. SAPM on Food Security, Mr. Jamshed Cheema, stated that a proposal in this regard has been finalized and would be presented shortly for approval.
Secretary M/o NFS&R updated the NPMC about the availability of sufficient stocks of wheat in the country. He also updated the Committee about the efforts underway regarding the procurement of wheat. The Chairman TCP apprised the NPMC about the tenders floated in the international market for purchasing Wheat and Sugar.
The Finance Minister expressed satisfaction and directed to complete the procurement of Wheat and Sugar in phases, keeping in view the prevailing international prices. The Finance Minister also urged to look into financial hedging of risks with reference to the import of key commodities.
While reviewing the current market price and stocks of sugar, the Finance Minister constituted a sub-committee comprising Secretary Ministry of NFS&R, Secretary M/o Industries & Production, Chairman FBR, Chairman TCP, and a representative of the Ministry of Commerce to expedite the import of 0.6 million metric ton of sugar to ensure smooth supply across the country.
The Chairperson CCP apprised the Committee about the stern actions being taken to end cartelization in the edible oil and ghee sector to ensure fair competition throughout the country. The Finance Minister directed the Chairperson CCP to accelerate efforts and present a detailed report before the forum at the earliest.
Earlier, the Secretary of Finance briefed the meeting on trends in weekly SPI, which increased marginally by 0.12 percent during the week under review. Prices of six items, including chicken, eggs, wheat flour bags, onions, and tomatoes, have declined, whereas 23 items remained stable.
International Commodity Price Comparison YoY
The NPMC reviewed the year-on-year international commodity prices and noted a massive price hike in major food items. Sugar registered a 44.4 percent increase in YoY comparison, palm oil 52.3 percent, soyabean oil 78.8 percent, and wheat 18 percent, respectively.
Correspondingly, in the country, sugar registered an increase of 19.33 percent, edible oil 27.25 percent, vegetable ghee 29.40 percent, and wheat 11.77 percent, respectively. The government absorbed the pressure by giving subsidies and importing staple food items to provide maximum relief to the consumers.
Similarly, there was an enormous increase in the price of crude oil by 73.8 percent on an international level, whereas the government reduced the levy on petrol and petroleum-based products. The coronavirus pandemic has played havoc with global food prices due to supply chain disruptions. The above comparative analysis reflects that the Govt sustained pressure to provide relief and keep overall inflation in check.
Among others, the SAPM on Food Security, Mr. Jamshed Cheema, SAPM on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Waqar Masood, Secretary Finance Division, Secretary M/o Industries & Production, Secretary M/o National Food Security & Research, Provincial Chief Secretaries, Chairman FBR, Chief Commissioner ICT, Chairman TCP, Chairman CCP, DG PBS, and other senior officers participated in the meeting.