ISLAMABAD    -     In order to check the price hike and ensure smooth supply of essential commodities across the country, the government would establish a monitoring cell in the Ministry National Food Security and Research (NFS&R), Federal Minister for NFS&R, Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan said here Thursday. “The cell would assess the demand and supply of all essential food commodities to keep their supply and prices at smooth level throughout the year,” the minister announced while addressing a press conference.

The cell, he said, would also keep eye on the prices of essential food items to avoid any price hike, besides it would provided policy guidelines to the government on the import of any commodity as per its requirement to avoid shortage of any commodity in domestic markets as well as curbing the hoarding and artificial price hike of food commodities in the country. The minister said that recent increase in tomatoes price as well as some other vegetables were due to seasonal factor, adding the prices would come down in next few weeks when supply increases.

In order to stabilize the tomatoes prices in local markets, the government had decided to lift ban on the import of tomatoes from Iran for 4 weeks, adding that the imported tomatoes would reach the local markets in few days.

He said that the imported tomatoes would cost up to Rs 35 per kg at Quetta and after adding the transportation charges these would be available at Rs 75-80 per kg in local markets.

He expressed the hope that prices of tomatoes would significantly reduce after the import from Iran, adding that it would further reduced as the supply from Sindh starts. This time bumper tomatoes and onion crop output was expected from Sindh that would start arriving in local markets by the first week of December and would reduce the prices of these commodities, he remarked.

The minister said that domestic wheat stocks stood at about 27 million tons as against the consumption of 25 million tons. He said that Prime Minister was concerned about the recent price hike of daily commodities and was chairing special meeting every week for price monitoring. He said that average prices of 20 kg wheat flour in Punjab was recorded at Rs 810, in Sindh it was Rs 1,113, Peshawar Rs 98, while in Quetta it was sold at Rs 970. He said that despite the commitment to procure about 600,000 tons of wheat, Sindh government had not procured wheat during this year that had created shortage of the grains and sparked the price of flour in the province.