ISLAMABAD: Taking serious note of rising prices of essential items in urban areas of the country, the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) on Wednesday sought the support of Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) to check anti-competitive practices.
The committee also stressed the need of chalking out a comprehensive plan in collaboration with provinces to prevent risk of major and minor crop due to locust attack.
The observations were made during a meeting of the NPMC held at the Finance Division. The meeting, chaired by Finance Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch, discussed the price trends of essential food items.
The meeting also discussed the outbreak of novel coronavirus and its impact on demand and supply of essential items. The spread of pandemic has compelled the governments to close/restrict borders. The meeting was informed that there is no impact of such closure on domestic prices of essential food items as their trade on these borders is negligible.
Baloch advised that all relevant authorities along with provincial governments should monitor the provision of essential food items at affordable prices. He also asked CCP to check anti-competitive practices and take prudent administrative measures in this regard.
The meeting was attended by the representatives of provincial governments, Islamabad Capital Territory, Ministries including Industries, Interior, Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, National Food Security & Research, Federal Board of Revenue, CCP and the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
The meeting was informed that CPI based inflation decreased by 0.8 per cent in April 2020 against March 2020. However compared to same month last year the CPI inflation was 8.5pc higher in April 2020.
The committee noted that the price trend in international market was on the decline which augurs well for the domestic prices in near future too. The members opined that localised inflationary factors cannot be ruled out ahead of Ramazan.
Secretary Finance noted that the government was proactively taking measures to control the general price level of daily use items during the month of Ramazan.
It has been noticed that Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) which monitors the price movement of 51 essential items on weekly basis recorded an increase of 0.01pc for the week ended on 14th May.
The representatives of provincial governments informed that they are regularly monitoring the prices and taking strict action against hoarding and undue profiteering.
Sindh government said that in Ramazan, 49,833 units were checked out of which 8,902 shopkeepers were fined for an amount of Rs15.71 million. Punjab government informed that 460,337 inspections were carried out and 51,924 shopkeepers were found involved in overcharging and fine of Rs103.74m were imposed.
Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2020