ISLAMABAD-The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) has asked the Ministry of National Food Security & Research (MoFSR) to consult the provincial governments and remain vigilant to control the wheat/flour and sugar prices, and take immediate necessary measures to ensure provision of these items at affordable prices.

The NPMC meeting chaired by the Secretary Finance on Friday called for the provincial governments to provide support to market committees in collaboration with district administration to play proactive role by removing the price disparity among the provinces and also ensure the smooth supply of essential items. The meeting also discussed the price trend of essential food items. Representatives from the provincial governments, Islamabad Capital Territory, Ministries of Industries, Commerce, Law and Justice, Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, National Food Security & Research, Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC), Competition Commission of Pakistan, Cabinet Division and Pakistan Bureau of Statistics were present.

The meeting was informed that CPI inflation year on year was recorded at 9.3 per cent in July 2020. It was noticed that Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) which monitors the price movement of 51 essential items on weekly basis recorded a decline of 0.22 per cent for the week ended on 13th August, 2020. This was second consecutive decline in SPI during the month of August 2020 which augurs well to tame down inflationary pressure in the country.  During the week, 11 items recorded decline in their prices while 22 items remain stable. Provincial governments and ICT informed the meeting that they were regularly monitoring the prices and taking strict action against hoarding and undue profiteering. Government in consultation with all stakeholders is proactively taking measures to control the general price level of daily use items at Federal, provincial and district levels. The Committee also discussed the price movements of essential items among the provinces/ICT and observed variations in price level. It was decided that all provincial governments and ICT administration will take proactive measures to control the undue price hike of essential items in the market.

Ministry of National Food Security & Research was directed to consult the provincial governments and remain vigilant to control the wheat/flour and sugar prices, and take immediate necessary measures to ensure provision of these items at affordable prices. It was further suggested that provincial governments should provide support to market committees in collaboration with district administration to play proactive role by removing the price disparity among the provinces and also ensure the smooth supply of essential items. Utility Store Corporation (USC) informed that the Corporation was procuring stock of commodities (Pulses/Rice) through open competitive bidding. The Tender Committee at the time of opening of bids/tenders examines the samples thoroughly so as to ensure the selection of good quality product as per prescribed specifications. Hence the commodities procured is strictly monitored and checked randomly to ensure provision of quality items. Further the surprise inspections are also carried out to examine the stocks at Warehouses. The Chair directed to further strengthen the quality control mechanism of essential items at Utility Stores. It was also noted that profit margin between wholesale and retail is huge in items like Apples, Bananas, Gram Pulse, Mash Pulse, Masoor Pulse, Tomatoes and Onions. The Chair urged that provincial governments should take corrective measures to check undue profit margin.

PBS was also directed to share the province wise margin between wholesalers and retailers so that provinces may take prompt action against anti market practices. Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) gave detail presentation on structure of Sugar and Poultry industry and their existing price mechanism. The Chair directed CCP to provide an action plan with concrete recommendations to check the anti-market practices in these sectors. While concluding the meeting the Chair emphasised that provision of essential commodities at affordable prices is the foremost agenda of the present government. There is dire need that provinces should take strict action against hoarding, adulteration, smuggling and over-due profiteering to ensure uninterrupted supply of daily use items to masses at lower prices and Federal Government will provide all possible cooperation in this regard for stability of prices in the country.