ISLAMABAD: Karachi and Larkana have emerged as the most expensive cities for consumers in terms of a price gap that exists in actual market prices of essential food items and the rates fixed by respective district administrations, the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) was informed on Monday.
In Sindh, Karachi has the highest gap of 94.81 per cent between consumer prices and DC rates, followed by Larkana 49.54pc, Sukkur 38.77pc, Hyderabad 28.34pc. On the other hand, in major cities of Punjab the price differential remained at a much lower rate, with Bahawalpur at the lowest of 9.25pc.
The NPMC meeting, chaired by Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, discussed in detail the gaps in prices based on the Decision Support System for Inflation (DSSI). The gap shows the failure of district administrations in implementing the rates in respective districts.
The DSSI has been developed by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to provide information on essential commodity prices to the NPMC, federal ministries, provincial governments and district administrations.
Last week, the ranking of districts showed an almost similar trend — with Karachi on the higher side. This showed that the district administration in the city has yet to take full action in implementing the DC rates. Post-devolution, price control falls within the jurisdiction of provinces.
The ranking shows that after Bahawalpur, the lowest gap was recorded in Sialkot at 10.35pc, followed by Lahore 10.53pc, Rawalpindi 11.84pc, and Sargodha 12.98pc. A slight increase was posted in the ranking of Faisalabad with a gap of 16.16pc. In Multan, the gap fell slightly to 21.65pc and Gujranwala to 18.75pc, respectively. In Islamabad, a decline was noted in the gap which fell to 19.16pc.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the gap is reported at 17.09pc in Peshawar, while in the city of Bannu the gap stood at 26.75pc.
In Balochistan, in Quetta district, the gap is reported at 30.81pc while in Khuzdar it was reported at 38.53pc.
The DSSI provides a ranking mechanism of districts through which the management at the provincial and federal level can monitor the price variation on a weekly as well as a monthly basis in 17 major cities of the country. The ranking is based on a basket of 10-12 essential items whose price differential is calculated among DC rates and PBS prices through weighted average.
An official announcement said the NPMC meeting reviewed price trend of essential commodities especially wheat flour, sugar, tomatoes, vegetable ghee, chicken and eggs during the last week. The weekly SPI recorded a decrease of 0.57pc wherein prices of seven basic items registered a decline and 18 commodities remained stable.
The overall release position of wheat was reviewed during the meeting.
The committee directed the Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research to hold a meeting with chief ministers of all provinces and keep a check on wheat flour rates to avoid any artificial price hike. Dr Shaikh further directed that smooth supply of wheat ne ensured at affordable prices across the country.
On the occasion, the Ministry of Industries and Production updated the committee that the sugarcane crushing season has ended. The overall production is higher as compared to last year.
Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar apprised that the ministry is already working on various measures for the provision of ghee/oil at a reasonable price.
Moreover, the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) would ensure availability of ghee at a subsidised price under the Ramazan Relief Package, Mr Azhar said.
Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2021