ISLAMABAD: The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) on Monday held the gap between supply and demand of eatables due to climatic factors responsible for the increase in prices of essential items in the country.

There was a general consensus at a meeting of the NPMC presided over by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh that recent rains and Covid-19 had aggravated the situation.

Minister for Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Husain and Special Assistant to the PM on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood also attended the meeting. The provincial chief secretaries took part in the meeting through a video link.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced that he would hold a series of meetings this week.

An official announcement said the NPMC deliberated on increase in the prices of wheat, sugar and perishable items like tomatoes, onions, potatoes and chicken and discussed corrective measures to provide relief to the consumers.

The adviser on finance urged all stakeholders to take drastic measures to curb inflation. The meeting asked district market committees to check price variation effectively.

The chief secretaries were directed to minimise price disparity by streamlining the release of wheat at regular intervals to defeat profiteers.

The NPMC reviewed the timeline for import of wheat and sugar to meet domestic demand of these items.

The meeting was informed that the total public sector procurement for wheat through government to government and the Trading Corporation of Pakistan is equal to 1.8 tonnes based on the demand estimates provided by the provinces and the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Supplies Corporation.

It was also told that sufficient sugar stocks are available in the country till November 2020.

The adviser on finance directed the Utility Stores Corporation to streamline the availability of essential items to provide maximum relief to the lowest sections of society.

He expressed confidence that effective and concerted actions by the provincial governments and the ministries concerned would help in controlling the inflation.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2020