ISLAMABAD - The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) on Tuesday noted that inflation rate declined to 7.9 per cent in February 2014 from 10.9 per cent of November last year mainly due to the government’s policies to control inflation.

The NPMC, which met under the chair of Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, reviewed the inflation rate in the country. The committee noted that inflation measured through consumer price indicator (CPI) is declining as it was 10.9 per cent in November 2013 and in January and February it has come down to 7.9 per cent, which is an indicator that government policies and measures are working to control inflation.

The finance minister urged the provincial governments to take more proactive steps to control the prices and ensure to pass on effect of the rupee appreciation on the prices of essential items. In addition he also advised the provincial governments to make functional the Consumer Protection Courts and Consumer Protection Society and also create awareness among the common people.

In his remarks, Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar said that price stability throughout the country is always the top priority of the PML (N) Government. He informed the meeting that the government has taken a number of steps to reform the economy and now there are positive signals of improvement in the economy. He said IMF in second review acknowledged that economic growth is picking up and inflation is coming down. Our all-macroeconomic indicators are showing positive direction as remittances have increased by 11 per cent; revenues by 17 per cent, exports by 6 per cent and rupee appreciated by 7 percent and foreign exchange reserves are also improving. The impact of Pak rupee appreciation will be realized in the prices. He informed that FBR has reported that appreciation of rupee value has led manufacturers to decrease their prices. These manufacturers include: Engro Polymer & Chemicals Ltd., manufacturer of PVC-Resin & Caustic Soda by 8%, Tufail Chemical Industries Ltd., manufacturer of various chemicals by 5%, Tufail Chemical & Surfactants (Pvt) Ltd by 5%, Swat Ceramics Industries (Pvt) Ltd by 5% and Indus Motors Company Ltd by 3-4%.  The meeting reviewed the inflationary trend of various indicators including the consumer price index (CPI), food, non-food, core, wholesale price index (WPI), sensitive price indicator (SPI) and index of 28 selected essential items.  The NPMC was informed that inflation measured by CPI was recorded at 7.9 percent during February 2014. Similarly SPI and WPI were also reported at 7.5 per cent and 7.6 per cent respectively, whereas inflation in food item was reported at 7.6 per cent, non-food 8.2 per cent and core at 7.8 per cent.

The SPI for the week ended on 20th March, 2014 recorded increase of 0.42 per cent due to increase in prices of 17 commodities, while prices of 07 items decreased and prices of 29 items remained stable as compared to last week.

The week ending on 20-03-2014 witnessed decrease in prices of eggs, gram pulse, gur, masoor pulse, firewood, masoor pulse and red chillies over last week. While, the items that recorded increase in their prices were tomatoes, potatoes, bananas, onions, LPG, moong pulse and wheat flour, whereas the prices of rice basmati (broken), Rice Irri-6, bread plain (medium size), beef, mutton, milk powdered Nido, mustard oil, veg ghee (tin), tea (Yellow Lable 200g), petrol, and diesel remained unchanged.

The NMPC also observed that in comparison with the regional countries, Pakistan is lowest in prices of petrol, wheat, wheat flour, sugar, chicken farm, moong pulse and second lowest in rice basmati broken, eggs, red chillies, mutton, mash pulse, gram pulse, masoor pulse, milk fresh and vegetable ghee. However, it was noted that recent price trend in international market is rising. The chair instructed we should watch the situation carefully and take appropriate steps to mitigate the increasing trend.

The finance minister appreciated the efforts of ICT and provincial governments on establishments of Sasta bazars and directed PBS to prepare an index of prices and compare the prices of Sasta bazar with general market and examine how much variation exists between these two markets. The chair instructed M/o Food Security & Research to prepare the plan and strategy for intercropping masoor pulses with sugarcane to increase its local production and reduce dependence on import and look into other aspects to increase other pulses’ productivity and commodities. The chair appreciated the efforts of Ministry of Food Security and Research about convening FCA meeting after a gap of four year and urged that all measures be considered for increasing the productivity of our major and minor crops to ensure food security for people.

The meeting was also attended by the Parliamentary Secretary, Rana Mohammad Afzal Khan and representatives from the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhthunkhwa, Baluchistan, Islamabad Capital Territory, Ministries of Industries & Production, Law, Justice & Human Rights, Commerce & Textile Industry, National Food Security & Research, Inter Provincial Coordination, Cabinet Division, Statistics Division, Ministry of Planning, Development & Reforms, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and Utility Stores Corporation.