ISLAMABAD: The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) on Wednesday expressed serious concern about the high prices of sugar at retail level in Sindh and Balochistan despite the onset of sugarcane crushing.
The meeting also raised concerns over the higher price of wheat flour in Sindh despite repeated reminders from the federal government. The NPMC meeting, presided over by Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin, reviewed the prices of wheat, sugar, pulses, chicken and other essential food items in the country.
While reviewing the price of sugar in the country, Finance Secretary Yusuf Khan said prices were easing out in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad due to start of sugarcane crushing and proactive measures of the government.
Mr Tarin expressed concern about the high prices of sugar at retail level in Sindh and Balochistan. Industries Secretary Jawwad Rafique Malik informed the meeting that sugar mills in Sindh and Punjab had started production and with the arrival of new stocks of sugar in the market, prices would be lower in the coming days.
Meeting informed about availability of sufficient wheat stocks in provinces, Passco
The finance secretary further updated the NPMC that the prices of wheat bags remained consistent at Rs1,100 per 20 kg due to the proactive measures of the Punjab, KP governments and ICT administration.
Mr Tarin expressed concern over the significant price difference of wheat flour in Sindh and Balochistan provinces as compared to other provinces. He advised the provincial chief secretaries of Sindh and Balochistan to increase the daily releases of wheat to improve the supply situation in the markets and make efforts to bring the prices of wheat to a lower level.
The Sindh chief secretary briefed the NPMC that the provincial government was taking all possible measures to control the price of wheat in the province by releasing the stocks in time.
Secretary of Ministry of Food Security Ghufran Memon briefed the NPMC about sufficient availability of wheat stock with the provinces and Pakistan Agricultural Storage & Services Corporation (Passco).
While reviewing the prices of edible oil, the NMPC observed that increase in prices of edible oil in the global market had affected local prices. Similarly, a seasonal factor has affected the prices of chicken and eggs.
The meeting took notice of higher price of vegetable ghee in Sasta Bazaars of KP and directed the chief secretary of KP to take necessary corrective measures to ease out prices.
The finance adviser asked the Federal Board of Revenue to accelerate the monitoring of supply side of edible oil effectively to keep the prices stable.
Observing the stock position of fertilisers, Mr Tarin directed the provincial governments to take strict actions against hoarders and prevent shortage.
The finance secretary briefed the NPMC about the weekly SPI situation which has been increased by 1.81pc during the week under review. While reviewing the price trend of essential commodities, he said that prices of six essential commodities registered decline whereas prices of 15 items remained stable during the last week.
He also apprised the meeting that prices of essential commodities registered a decline as compared to same period last year. The prices of moong pulse and onion have registered a decline in the week. The NPMC also emphasised building strategic reserves of moong and providing incentives to farmers to produce Mash pulse domestically to lessen the import dependence.
Mr Tarin informed the meeting that government has a firm commitment to preventing hoarding. A whistleblower against hoarders law would be introduced and enforced soon, he added.
Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2021