ISLAMABAD: The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC), in consultation with provincial governments, on Thursday decided to put in place a strong forecasting mechanism to ensure availability of essential food items for the coming three to six months.
It was also decided that a regular monthly meeting of NPMC will be held to review supply and prices of all commodities and timely measures will be put in place to avoid any shortage in the country.
Heading the meeting, Finance Minister Asad Umar directed that market committees should be made more proactive to play a vigilant role in effectively monitoring prices and check any hoarding. It was also agreed to reduce rate disparity between provinces through an integrated market mechanism.
An official statement issued here said that the prime minister will chair a meeting to further review the supply and prices of food and pharmaceuticals on Apr 8.
Will review increase in food, medicines rates next week
The concerned ministries will submit short and medium-term policy recommendations along with structural measures needed to ensure smooth supply and stability in the prices to the prime minister.
The NPMC decided that laws would be reviewed to ensure price control mechanism proactively focuses on cartelisation, hoarding and undue profiteering. The meeting also oversaw the availability of commodities with particular reference to Ramazan.
The Utility Stores Corporation assured NPMC that the government’s Ramazan package will be implemented to ensure sufficient availability of commodities at affordable prices. The meeting agreed that Sasta bazaars, Sunday bazaars and fair price shops will be increased throughout the country to ensure sufficient availability of commodities at affordable prices.
On Thursday, NPMC took a stock of supply and prices of food and pharmaceutical items and reviewed rates of perishable and non-perishable edibles, particularly 28 essential kitchen items.
The committee was also informed that volatility in the prices of perishable items, specifically tomatoes, onions, grams and pulses, was primarily due to seasonal variations which have now subsided.
Stresses boosting exports
Chairing the 80th meeting of the Board of Administrators of Export Development Fund (EDF), the prime minister said economic future of the country is linked with rapid growth in exports, which have remained far below the actual potential.
According to an announcement, the premier said that in the past revenue-centric economic policies with the overdrive to collect revenues made the industry uncompetitive. The present government has made a paradigm shift in prioritising the competitiveness of industry vis-à-vis revenue collection.
While expressing serious concern over the mismatch in collection and releases of EDF in the past, the prime minister directed that timely release of the funds to exporters. He further said a comprehensive system must be devised for the future to ensure unhindered releases and optimum utilisation of EDF for its mandated purpose.
The EDF Board of Administrators reconstituted the finance committee of the board which will be chaired by adviser to the prime minister on commerce. The EDF Board would also include Secretary Textile Division as its member to ensure representation of the textile sector.
The meeting approved the budget and schedule of activities to be held during Texpo Exhibition 2019. The event will be held at Lahore Expo Centre on April 11-14.
Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2019