ISLAMABAD: The government on Saturday said due to Covid-19, prices of raw material for edible oil such as palm oil had more than doubled.

In response to a question from MNA Shazia Marri about factors that led to the increase in the prices of food essentials in particular and other commodities in general, the Ministry of Industries and Production said the price of raw palm oil had increased from $760 per tonne in January 2020 to $1,352 per tonne in January 2022.

As the ministry only dealt with two essential commodities - sugar and edible oil - prices of essential commodities rose due to the increase in raw material cost of sugarcane and palm oil.

Secondly, given the supply and demand situation, the prices of sugar increased manifold during the tenure of the incumbent government.

The government maintained that in recent years there was a drastic decrease in the production of sugar, and high prices of sugarcane were paid to farmers. Drawing a comparison, the ministry elaborated that during the crushing year 2017-18, 6.61 million metric tonnes sugar was produced while consumption stood at 5.20 metric tonnes. However, in 2020-21, 5.69 metric tonne sugar was produced while consumption increased to over 5.80 metric tonnes.

In response to another question from Ms Marri, the ministry said the government had been providing five essential commodities - flour, ghee, sugar, rice and pulses - on reduced or subsidised prices through utility stores since January 2020.

The reduced/subsidised prices of these basic commodities were implemented at utility stores across the country. After the subsidy, the price of non-subsidised 20kg bag of flour was reduced from Rs1,400 to Rs950. The price of non-subsidised sugar was reduced from Rs95 to Rs85 per kg at utility stores.

As price of ghee was reduced from Rs380 to Rs260, price of super banaspati rice was reduced from Rs150 to Rs140, tota basmati from Rs96 to Rs84 and sella rice was now available at Rs139 against Rs149.

Similarly, pulses such as Dal Channa price was reduced from Rs182 to Rs162, Dal Masoor from Rs235 to Rs215 and the price of white gram from Rs233 to Rs213.

The ministry claimed that since January 2020, 100.48 million households had been served.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2022

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