Taking strict notice of the difference in prices of wheat flour bags in parts of Pakistan, the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) has urged the provincial governments of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan to initiate a daily release of wheat at the government-specified rate on priority.
Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research, Syed Fakhar Imam, presided over the meeting of the NPMC, held at the Finance Division on Wednesday.
The NPMC observed that the price of a 20-kg bag of wheat flour was Rs. 1,100 in Punjab and Islamabad Capital Territory due to the daily release of wheat at the government-specified price. However, the prices of wheat flour bags in Karachi, Quetta, and Peshawar ranged between Rs. 1,300-1,460 per bag. The NPMC took strict notice of the price differential and urged the provincial governments to ensure daily releases on the fixed rate.
The Secretary of Food, Government of Sindh, informed NPMC that the government will start the daily release of wheat at the standard rate from 16 October 2021.
The Federal Minister for Food Security commended the government of Punjab and the ICT administration for the daily release of wheat which stabilized the prices of the wheat flour bag.
The Economic Advisor, Finance Division, briefed the NPMC on the increase in weekly SPI by 1.21% as compared to consecutive decline over the last two weeks, saying that the prices of 21 items remained stable whereas eight items registered a decline during the week under review.
The Secretary NFS&R briefed the NPMC about sufficient availability of stock of wheat with the provinces and PASSCO.
The Secretary Ministry of Industries and Production briefed the NPMC on the start of voluntary crushing of the sugarcane in some districts of Sindh by 25 October 2021. He also updated the committee about the priority of the government to begin sugarcane crushing by the first week of November 2021 in Punjab.
The sugarcane production is expected to be in greater quantity as compared to the last year. Moreover, the imported sugar is being provided to Sasta Sahulat Bazaars and Utility Stores Corporation at a subsidized price of Rs. 90 per kg in order to provide relief to the consumers. The early crushing of sugarcane will further reduce the prices of sugar in local markets, he added.
The committee was briefed on the continuous fluctuations in the international prices of palm and soya bean oils. The FBR has worked out an arrangement with all relevant stakeholders and a firmed-up proposal will be submitted before the cabinet to reduce the duty on import of edible oil which will reduce the prices of ghee in local markets.
The Secretary NFS&R informed about the increase in prices of chicken due to seasonal factors. The opening of restaurants and banquet halls have pushed the demand for increased consumption of chicken and prices will be streamlined with improved supply in few weeks.
Among others, SAPM for Food Security, Jamshed Cheema, Additional Secretary Ministry of Industries and Production, Additional Secretary Commerce, Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Member PBS, representatives of Provincial Food Departments, and other senior officers participated in the meeting.