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Dar urges need for effective monitoring to check prices

Dar urges need for effective monitoring to check prices

ISLAMABAD: The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) held its 18th meeting in Finance Division under the Chairmanship of Senator Ishaq Dar, Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization.

The meeting was attended by the representatives from the Provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhthunkhwa, Balochistan, Islamabad Capital Territory, and Ministries of Industries and Production, Law, Justice and Human Rights, Commerce and Textile Industry, National Food Security and Research, Inter Provincial Coordination, Cabinet Division, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Federal Board of Revenue and Utility Stores Corporation.

The Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar emphasized on the need to strengthen the committee and improve implementation of its decision so that an effective monitoring of prices of essential items is ensured. This he said is one area where the Federal and Provincial governments should work jointly to provide relief to the common man. In the west he said, consumer associations are playing the role of watchdogs to check rise in prices.

Senator Ishaq Dar said that the price stability of essential items throughout the country is a priority of the present government. The provinces he said should play a proactive role in maintaining price stability to provide relief to the general public, he added.

Senator Ishaq Dar also emphasized that the forum of National Price Monitoring Committee at the Federal level monitors supply and demand position, review prices and comparison with regional countries is made. He expressed the hope that provinces would actively participate in the meeting and take practical steps to control price hike, which will improve the performance of NPMC.

The meeting reviewed the trend of inflationary pressure by various indicators including the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Food, Non-Food, Core, Wholesale Price index (WPI) and Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI). The NPMC was informed that CPI was recorded at 8.5 percent during August 2013, similarly SPI and WPI also reported at 10.1 percent and 8.3 percent respectively. The SPI for the week ended on 5th September, 2013 recorded an increase 0.04 percent due to increase in prices of 19 commodities out of 53 items, while prices of 10 items decreased and prices of 24 items remained stable as compared to last week ended on 29-08-2013. It was also informed that during the last two weeks, prices of more than 50 % items remained unchanged, which is a signal that government measures are showing their impact.

The food items which registered increase in their prices were Eggs 4.08%, Potatoes 3.57%,  Red Chillies 1.71%, Masoor Pulse 0.85%, Gram Pulse 0.59%, Wheat Flour 0.53%,  Bread Plain 0.40%, Curd 0.19%, Cooking Oil (Tin) 0.11%, while non-food items responsible for increase are Kerosene Oil 3.24%, Diesel 2.42%, LPG 2.40%. The items which recorded decrease in their prices were Tomatoes -14.50%, Bananas -8.85%, Garlic -2.18%, Onions -1.17%, Mash Pulse -0.82%, Sugar -0.64%, Chicken -0.42%, Moong Pulse -0.28%, Mustard Oil -0.08% and Veg. Ghee (Loose) -0.03%.

The NMPC also observed that in comparison with the regional countries, Pakistan is the lowest in prices with respect to Rice Basmati, Beef, Chicken, Red chillies, Eggs and second lowest in Wheat, Wheat flour, Garlic, Sugar, Onions and Petrol. While prices of Tea, Tomatoes, Diesel and Urea are higher in Pakistan.

The meeting also reviewed the price trend of 28 selected items among the provinces. Some variations in the prices of Wheat Flour, Rice Basmati Broken, Rice Irri-6, Pulses, Beef, Mutton, Milk Fresh, Milk Powdered, Ghee, Tomatoes and Garlic were observed.

The meeting also discussed the implementation status of decisions taken in the last NPMC meeting held on 10th July 2013. The meeting directed Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination to follow up the progress of their summary submitted to the Cabinet Division regarding a draft bill for restoration of Executive Magistracy System so that this item may be placed in the next meeting of the Cabinet.

The Chair also appreciated the Federal Board of Revenue on timely notifying 43 essential items on which GST is not applicable; it was further directed that FBR should publicize these items for the convenience of general public.

Ministry of National Food Security & Research informed the meeting that they are working on National Food Nutritional Security Policy and very soon the policy will be circulated to the stakeholders so that it was finalized by 30th December, 2013. The policy will contain short term and long term measures to ensure food security in the country.

The meeting was informed that the recent stock of wheat was 7.0 million tons as compared to 6.7 million tons last year. It was also informed that 124000 tons wheat had been imported in the private sector which would further improve the stock position.

The meeting also discussed the stock position of sugar, oil and other essential items and it was noted that stock position is comfortable for upcoming demand. The Ministry of National Food Security & Research was directed to present a comprehensive report on major crops in the next NPMC meeting.