ISLAMABAD: Fearing surge in prices of essential items, Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Friday sent letters to provincial governments, asking them to check price-hike of locally produced products in view of introduction of additional taxes by the government.

On Dec 1, the government introduced new taxes worth Rs40 billion on imports of various products, including fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

In separate letters addressed to the chief ministers of the provinces, Mr Dar expressed concern over increase in prices of products of daily use.

He said that unscrupulous elements were taking undue advantage of the situation by increasing prices of domestically produced products. An official announcement by the finance ministry did not elaborate further.

However, during the last one week, prices of imported products have increased because of additional revenue measures.

Mr. Dar said the relevant provincial departments as well as district administrations be instructed to ensure that no unwarranted and unjustified price increase takes place for locally produced goods as well as items of use by the common man under the pretext of revenue measures.

He further stated that no duty or tax was imposed or enhanced on locally-produced items (except cigarettes) or items used by the common man as almost all additional revenue measures targeted imported non-essential and luxury items.

There was, therefore, no justification whatsoever of increasing prices of locally produced items and items used by the common man, Mr Dr said. According to a notification issued by the FBR, the government has imposed 5 to 10pc taxes on 61 new items as part of the Rs40bn additional revenue measures.

These items mostly include live poultry, frozen fish, including fillets and fish meat, coconuts, brazil nuts and cashew nuts, almonds, preserved meat, including offal or blood, cocoa paste and cocoa butter, ground nuts, pineapples, citrus fruit, pears, apricots, cherries, peaches, strawberries, tea and coffee essences and concentrates.

At the same time regulatory duty was increased from 10pc to15pc on almost 289 products. These products also include food items: yogurt, butter, dairy spreads, cheese, curd, natural honey, pineapples, all fresh fruits, dried fruits, vegetables and other cereal products. The National Price Monitoring Committee reviews prices of essential commodities of daily use on a regular basis.

Additional revenue measures have been taken to ensure that there was no cut in provincial transfers or slashing of necessary expenditure on security, development and social safety.

Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2015

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