ISLAMABAD  -  National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) on Monday has blamed the recent rains and COVID-19 for the higher inflation rate in the country beside other issues.

Finance Adviser, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) to review the prices of essential perishable commodities, which was held at Finance Division. Inflation rate has increased in the country due to the surge in prices of food commodities. Pakistan’s headline national inflation has accelerated faster than expected to 9.04 percent in September 2020 mainly due to higher food prices in the country. Price of wheat flour and sugar is increasing rapidly in the country. Flour price is around Rs70 to Rs75 per kg and sugar price is in the range of Rs90 to Rs105 in different parts of the country. Similarly, prices of vegetables are also showing upward journey. 

The NPMC deliberated upon increase in the prices of wheat, sugar and perishable items namely tomatoes, onions, potatoes and chicken and discussed corrective measures to provide relief to the end consumers. It was stated by the concerned Ministries that the reasons behind the price hike include gap in supply and demand due to climatic factors, upward trend in international prices and increased profit margin between wholesale & retailers particularly in metropolitan areas. There was a general consensus that recent rains and COVID-19 have further aggravated the situation.

Abdul Hafeez Shaikh urged all the stakeholders to take drastic measures to curb inflation. In this regard, the role of district market committees was emphasised to curb price variation effectively. The Chief Secretaries were directed to minimize price disparity by streamlining the release of wheat at regular intervals to avoid profiteering.

NPMC also reviewed the timeline for import of wheat and sugar to meet domestic demand for the same. Adviser Finance was briefed that the total public sector procurement for wheat through G2G and TCP is equal to 1.8 MT based on the demand estimates provided by the provinces and PASSCO. It was also stated that sufficient sugar stocks are available in the country till Nov., 2020.

Adviser finance also directed Utility Stores to streamline the availability of essential items in order to provide maximum relief to the lowest strata of the society. Advisor Finance expressed confidence that effective and well-concerted actions by the provincial governments and the concerned Ministries will help in controlling the menace of inflation. 

The meeting was attended by Minister for Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam, Adviser for Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood, Adviser to PM on Institutional Reforms Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, Secretary NFS&R, Secretary Planning, Secretary Ministry of Industries & Production, Chief Secretaries from Punjab, Sindh, KP and Balochistan, Chairperson, Competition Commission of Pakistan and representatives from Utility Stores and Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.