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Asad Umar directs to bring down inflation, monitor food situation

Asad Umar directs to bring down inflation, monitor food situation

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar directed the Federal Ministry of Food Security, Utility Stores and other provincial ministries to regularly monitor the demand and supply situation to bring down inflation.

Chairing a review meeting on controlling food inflation, Umar directed the ministries to strengthen the monitoring system of 18 essential commodities including wheat, sugar, flour, edible ghee/oil, potatoes, onions and pulses in all the provinces.

The federal minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s top priority was to provide essential commodities to the public at reasonable prices.

“The meeting decided to propose a reduction in GST on ghee/cooking oil,” a top official of the food security ministry told The News on Friday. “The minister also suggested banning the export of any food item that possessed the possibility of a price hike in the domestic market.”

The official added, the federal minister had also proposed to slap a ban on the export of onions, if it was necessary. “The minister directed the utility stores to purchase food commodities at wholesale prices and provide maximum benefits to consumers,” he said.

‘Keep close watch on onion, potato trade’

Umar said that price-hike would start to decline in February and inflation was expected to drop significantly as well.

The CPI-based inflation had witnessed 14.6 per cent height in January 2020, the highest-ever in the last decade on a monthly basis. However, it is now expected that inflation will come down and stand at slightly over 13 per cent in February.

Umar further directed Umar Lodhi, managing director of the Utility Stores, to check the prices of pulses. He also instructed the ministry of food to develop strategies to increase local production of food products, keep a close watch on the onion and potato trade situation, and to maintain a regular supply of wheat from public-sector stocks.

‘Relief to masses top priority’

Earlier this month the prime minister had said his government would go to any extent to provide relief to masses and check price hike of essential commodities.

He expressed these views while chairing a meeting of his economic team with reference to key commodities’ prices, including flour, sugar, cooking oil and rice. The meeting took stock of the steps for bringing prices of these items down under the premier’s directions.