ISLAMABAD: The government has decided in principle to import wheat for building strategic reserves and ensure steady supply of staple food during the current year.
A summary will be presented in the next meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet for approval. This was stated by Secretary Ministry of Food Security and Research Ghufran Memon in a meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC).
The NPMC meeting was chaired by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin to review prices of essential food items.
Mr Ghufran apprised the committee about sufficient availability of wheat stocks across the country. He also briefed about arrangements under way to import wheat for building strategic reserves and to ensure steady supply during the current year.
Strict price monitoring of food items ordered
The NPMC reviewed the price trend of essential commodities especially wheat flour, sugar, edible ghee, chicken and vegetables during the last week.
While taking stock of the situation, Mr Tarin urged all the provincial governments to ensure daily release of wheat on subsidised rates in compliance with the directives of the prime minister to keep the prices of wheat flour bags in check.
While briefing the NPMC about weekly SPI, the finance secretary said that prices of nine basic commodities registered a decline whereas 30 items remained stable during the week under review.
Data collection methodology
In compliance with the earlier directions of the finance minister, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics updated the NPMC about data collection methodology and presented a detailed working regarding disparity between wholesale and retail prices of essential commodities.
After due deliberation, the NPMC directed PBS to further review its data collection methodology to reflect variation between wholesale and retail levels for basic commodities across different cities accurately.
Mr Tarin also directed PBS to ensure that data must represent and reflect prevailing prices trends including prices prevailing in Ramazan Saastaa/Sahulat Bazaars for wide coverage.
The finance minister directed the respective provincial administrations and departments concerned for strict monitoring of prices of basic commodities and ensure availability of sufficient stocks of basic commodities to provide relief to the consumers on the special occasion of Eid.
The minister stressed coordinated and consolidated efforts by all concerned to check profiteering to facilitate masses during the last week of Ramazan.
Separately, the finance minister on Monday was also briefed by Board of Investment (BoI) chairman Atif Bokhari on the working of the board as a lead agency responsible for investment promotion, protection and facilitation saying it has become more important to attract and retain investment amid Covid-19 pandemic.
The major initiative of BoI is improvement in Ease of Doing Business in which Pakistan advanced 28 places to attain 108th position during 2020.
The board had introduced a series of reforms to streamline areas such as starting a business, getting construction permits, registering property, getting electricity, paying taxes and trading across the borders. Pakistan registered significant improvement in six key indicators which eventually led to improvement in overall ranking.
Mr Tarin assured full support and facilitation for creating conducive business environment to transform Pakistan into one of the top investment destinations.—APP
Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2021