ISLAMABAD: The National Price Monitoring Committee has expressed satisfaction over the recent declining trend in sugar price.
Presiding over a meeting of the committee here on Monday, Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin ordered procurement of 100,000 tonnes of sugar to ensure strategic reserves of the sweetener.
The finance secretary briefed the meeting about a slight increase of 0.07 per cent in the weekly Sensitive Price Index (SPI) indicating price stability as compared to previous weeks.
The committee noted that year-on-year weekly inflation was coming down for the past two months from a high of 17.23pc on May 20, 2021 to 12.28pc on July 8, which is a significant decline in SPI.
Similarly, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) released on July 1 showed an annual inflation at national level at 8.9pc which was down from 10.74pc a year ago. Urban and rural inflation stood at 8.15pc and 10.05pc as compared to 10.17pc and 11.63pc, respectively. “Clearly, the inflation is coming down across all measures,” an official statement said.
While reviewing the year-on-year and week-on-week inflation trends, the finance minister asked the respective district administrations and departments to take stern measures to keep the prices of essential items, including vegetables, in check on Eidul Azha to eliminate profiteering.
Mr Tarin constituted a working group under the NPMC comprising provincial chief secretaries, secretary finance division and representatives of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), Ministry of National Food Security and Research and other relevant departments to work out measures for bringing price stability in basic commodities by using mystery shopping exercise and building strategic reserves of wheat, sugar, pulses, ghee, tomatoes, onions and potatoes to eliminate undue profit margins and ensure availability of these items at affordable prices.
The finance minister directed the PBS to present a detailed variance analysis vis-a-vis weekly SPI highlighting food prices prevailing across mainstream cities and districts for real-time comparison. The data would be used by the respective provincial administrations and departments to ensure that notified rates are being followed across the board and help minimise price differential between farm gate and retail rates.
The Ministry of Industries and Production secretary told the committee that after increase in prices of soya bean and palm oils, the international prices have registered a decline.
Mr Tarin directed the Ministry of Industries and Production, the Competition Commission of Pakistan(CCP) and the Federal Board of Revenue to take requisite actions to ensure that current decline in the international prices of edible oil was passed on to the domestic consumers soon.
The CCP chairperson said the commission had already undertaken an inquiry in the edible oil and ghee sector to ascertain information and crosscheck facts regarding alleged collective fixing of retail prices of various products of cooking oil and ghee for different market segments.
Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2021