Anusha Ramzi

After 30 percent decline in Palm oil prices in the international market, the Punjab government has been persuading the producers of edible oil to reduce the prices proportionately to benefit the consumers. Punjab government had a point that after reduction in prices of petroleum products and palm oil in the international market, the cost of production has declined, and the benefit should accrue to the consumers. Initially, they resisted and used evasive measures, but when pressurised, they unilaterally declared a reduction Rs.5 per kg in prices of vegetable oil and ghee. Earlier, they even threatened to shut down their mills rather than reducing the prices suggested by the Punjab government.

However, Punjab govt was resolved to stop exploitation of the consumers by the cartels and the govt ultimately managed to convince the ghee mills owners on Rs. 15 per kilogram reduction in prices of ghee and edible oil. The ghee mills owners were given a three-day time to reduce the ghee and edible oil prices, asserting that reduced ghee prices would be implemented across the country. However, the Association was asked to produce authentic proofs of concession given to consumers on brands of respective mills during this period. Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif had presided over a high level meeting in which steps regarding decrease in prices of vegetable oil and ghee were reviewed.

Addressing the meeting, the chief minister had said no one would be allowed to exploit the people under the garb of profiteering. He said that the interest of common man is dearer to him and his party, adding that provision of relief to the people is the responsibility of the government and it will take all necessary steps in this regard. Ghee is one of the basic kitchen items of daily use, and its price impacts the budget of the common man. Punjab government had taken notice that despite substantial reduction in palm oil price in the international market, the people have had to pay the same old price.

In the past, whenever there was increase in the price of palm oil in the international market, the domestic producers immediately enhanced their prices. With 30 per cent decline price of palm in international market, they should have reduced the prices, which they did not do, and the government had to intervene. They should bear in mind that when prices of crude oil and petroleum products increase in the international market, the government increases the prices in the domestic market, and since the prices of crude oil have been falling, the government has revised downward the price of petrol from Rs.114 per litre to Rs.70 per litre.

The federal government’s economic vision and pragmatic approach to revive economy and provide relief to the common man has resulted in positive developments from easing of monetary policy, rising stock market, decline in inflation and stability in exchange rate. Consumer Price Index (CPI) shows reduction in prices of various daily-use items, as potato wholesale price has come down by 25 per cent, cooking oil (10 per cent), rice and sugar (2 per cent). Moreover, oil tankers have reduced their fares by 4.62 per cent after a recent cut in petroleum prices. Public transport has revised downward their fares, which has salutary effect on general price level. The downward trend in inflation is gradually reaching consumers in Punjab especially.

Shahbaz Sharif is admired not only by people of Punjab but also in other provinces. He is rather considered as a role model for other provinces. Last year, he has been to Turkey, India, China and other countries, and their media are all praise for his caliber and vision. Even the chief minister of Bihar had praised the good governance of Shahbaz Sharif. Transparency International acknowledges that the level of corruption is lowest in Punjab, if compared with other provinces. Shahbaz Sharif, true to his reputation, has undertaken major development works across the big cities of Punjab and this contributed to a significant expansion in the province’s infrastructure. Of course, this seems to be a response to the needs of an articulate urban population that votes for his party.