ISLAMABAD: The newly appointed Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on Monday directed the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to add 19 new cities to the Decision Support System for Inflation (DSSI) to record and monitor prices of essential commodities in 39 major cities across the country.
Soon after assuming his office as a finance minister, Mr Tarin held an introductory meeting with top officials of the Planning Commission and PBS to evaluate the current techniques of data collection and analysis used by the PBS.
The DSSI was introduced in January to record gap between actual prices of essential food items and rates fixed by the district administrations. Currently, it was recording the gap in 17 cities across the country.
Mr Tarin took three decisions and asked PBS to implement them immediately to have access to record on real time to address the issue of inflation. He directed PBS to increase the number of cities to 36 from the existing 17.
The minister asked PBS to adopt a practice of regularly comparing the difference in wholesale and retail prices of essential food items in different districts across the country. PBS will highlight the difference in prices in different provinces as well. Currently, PBS provides data of comparison at retail level.
He said government will send people to market to check prices randomly to have data base.
An official statement said that the chief statistician gave a detailed briefing to Mr Tarin on evidence-based data collection techniques in compiling figures particularly for CPI and SPI.
The minister appreciated the PBS for technology-based data gathering techniques after doing away with the paper based approach and directed them to follow such methods that could further assist in making the data more objective, targeted and authentic for the purpose of comparison and analysis.
The chief statistician also apprised the minister of the changes they are about to introduce in the system to make it more comprehensive.
The minister said that addressing the root cause of inflation with devising a new hierarchy of administrative control will provide the most needed relief to the masses.
Mr Tarin said that the data if available on real time basis on the PBS dash-board will help in maintaining the strategic reserves of the essential commodities across the country. The meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) is expected to take place within a week’s time and PBS will share its data analysis report in the upcoming meeting.
Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2021