Tarin Directs Commerce Ministry to Ban Export of Perishable Items

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin has directed the Ministry of Commerce to expedite the process of banning exports of perishable commodities and complete the task within the next three months after consultation with the Ministry of National Food Security & Research.

The direction, issued in view of the seasonal variations and the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan, is aimed to ensure the availability of such commodities to the consumers at an affordable price.

The Finance Minister was presiding over the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) meeting held at the Finance Division on Wednesday.

The Secretary Finance briefed the NPMC on the decline in weekly sensitive price indicator (SPI) by 0.07%. He said the rise in global food commodities and petroleum prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic affected the prices of essential food items worldwide. The continuous uptick in international food prices is affecting the domestic prices as Pakistan is a net importer of staple food items namely wheat, sugar, edible oil, and pulses, he added.

The Finance Minister expressed satisfaction over the release of wheat by the Government of Punjab at the government-specified rate, easing out the price of wheat flour bags in the province. He directed the provincial Chief Secretaries of Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa too to expedite the process for releasing wheat at the price determined by the government after fulfilling the requisite formalities. He reiterated the government’s resolve to ensure a smooth supply of wheat flour across the country at the government-specified price.

The Managing Director USCs apprised the Committee of the progress on automation of USCs processes and the integration with Ehsaas data system to work out a mechanism for provision of direct subsidies to the beneficiaries as per eligibility criteria. He also informed the Committee about the installation of the point of sales. The Finance Minister directed the Managing Director USCs to complete the entire process of automation by December 2021.

The Member Pakistan Bureau of Statistics presented a detailed presentation on the collection of prices across different cities and markets to compile a weekly SPI. The NPMC directed the Special Assistant on Food Security to hold consultative sessions with the provincial Chief Secretaries, Secretary Ministry of Industries and Production, and Chief Commissioner ICT to sort out the issues with effective coverage of markets to ensure data collected by PBS reflects the prevailing trend of prices of the items of daily use, including Sasta Sahulat Baazars for extensive and accurate calculation.

While reviewing prices of essential commodities, the NPMC noted that the current hike in international prices of food commodities might continue in the coming months too due to global supply bottlenecks.

In his closing remarks, the Finance Minister stated that inflation in food commodities was an international phenomenon. The government, he said, has taken a range of measures to absorb the pressure of the international price hike in staple food items by providing subsidies in order to provide maximum relief to the consumers.

The government is fully cognizant of its responsibility to ensure a smooth supply of essential commodities throughout the country, he emphasized.

Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research Syed Fakhar Imam, Minister of State on Information Farrukh Habib, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Food Security Jamshed Iqbal Cheema, Secretary Finance Division, Secretary Ministry of Industries and Production, Additional Secretary Commerce, Provincial Chief Secretaries, Chief Commissioner Islamabad, Chief Statistician PBS, Managing Director Utility Stores Corporation (USCs), Chairperson CCP, Member FBR, MD PASSCO, and other senior officers attended the meeting.