PM Imran asks provinces to devise joint plan on food prices

Updated February 14, 2020

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Sindh chief secretary told to check price of wheat flour. — AP
Sindh chief secretary told to check price of wheat flour. — AP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday approved the establishment of a National Demand Supply Cell (NDSC) aimed at monitoring the availability of essential commodities and instructed the provinces to formulate within a week a National Action Plan for keeping their prices in check.

The prime minister was presiding over a meeting on adulteration, hoarding and inflation, which was attended by federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar, federal Minister for Food Security Khusro Bakhtiar, PM’s Adviser on Com­merce Razak Dawood and Special Assistant to the PM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and chief secretaries of the four provinces took part in the proceedings through video links.

During the meeting Mr Khan was also briefed on some mobile phone Apps for checking prices of the commodities and their online delivery in big cities of the country.

Sindh chief secretary told to check price of wheat flour

Issuing instructions for the prompt establishment of the NDSC, which would monitor supply and demand of essential items like sugar, wheat and rice, Mr Khan said the manpower required for the purpose should be provided by the food security ministry.

He asked the four chief secretaries to devise within a week a comprehensive plan aimed to keep prices of wheat flour, sugar and rice, etc, in check and also abolish adulteration.

When, during a briefing on the prices of essential items in the four provinces, the prime minister noted that prices of food items were on the higher side in Sindh, the prime minister asked its chief secretary to take effective measures to arrest the adverse trend.

Sindh’s Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah had informed the meeting about the rising prices of commodities, especially wheat flour in Karachi.

The meeting was informed that the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation had already issued 400,000 tonnes of wheat to the province. However, the Sindh government had called for supply of another 100,000 tonnes of the commodity.

According to an official ann­ouncement issued after the meeting, the issue of the additional demand was referred to the Eco­nomic Coordination Committee of the cabinet for approval.

The premier, however, instructed Mr Shah to take strict steps against profiteers and hoarders of essential food items, especially wheat flour in his province particularly Karachi.

At the outset of the meeting, the chief secretaries of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said that prices of wheat flour, sugar and other essential food items were stable in their provinces. They also claimed that prices of some kitchen items had witnessed a decline in recent weeks.

An official of the Islamabad Capital Territory gave a similar report on prices.

Mr Khan told the meeting that making the country adulteration-free was a top priority of his government. He asked the officials concerned to revive the dysfunctional Food Testing Laboratory to check adulteration in various commodities in the province of Balochistan.

He said the federal government should extend every possible support in making the laboratory functional. “It is our national responsibility to control and eliminate this menace (of adulteration) from the country,” Mr Khan said.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2020