Islamabad, July 04, 2014 (PPI-OT): The Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired 22nd meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee at the Finance Ministry today. The meeting was also attended by the representatives from the Provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhthunkhwa, Balochistan, Islamabad Capital Territory, and Ministries of Industries, Law and Justice, Commerce, Food and Security, Interior, Inter Provincial Coordination, Cabinet, Statistics Division, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Federal Board of Revenue and Utility Stores Corporation.
Finance Minister said that we are committed to take all measures to control the prices of daily needs with the support of provincial governments and other stakeholders so that cartels, profiteers, and hoarders will not be allowed to make undue profit.
Government has succeeded to keep inflation in single digit during 2013-14 despite that the economy was facing number of challenges such as high fiscal deficit, high borrowing for budgetary support, low credit to private sector and severe energy crisis.
The government had focus on the economic reforms and took some difficult decisions to bring economy back on track. As a result of following the appropriate monetary and fiscal policies as well other administrative measures like monitoring of prices and supply situation in the country the inflation has been contained.
However, Minister shown concern on the rising trend of Potatoes and Tomatoes prices despite that government has allowed zero duty on the import of Potatoes so that this commodity is available to the consumer at affordable rates.
He said that action was taken to breakup this commodity cartel. He directed Ministry of Food Security and Research to look into the matter as why there is increasing trend and suggesting remedial measures and suggestion in consultation with the provincial government to address this issue.
The Minister further emphasized on research in the cropping pattern of the pulses so that its prices also remain under control and in this connection directed Ministry of Food Security and Research to expedite inter cropping plan in consultation with provinces.
The Chair enquired about shortage of essential items reported in Utility Stores. It was informed by MD Utility Store Corporation that due to subsidized rates in utility stores there is huge rush. The demand has increased manifold which created timely shortage but covered immediately.
The Minister reviewed the prices of Sasta Bazaar and open market and observed that in all provincial government the Sasta Bazaar are providing commodities at lower rates than open market and appreciated the provincial govt. and ICT effort in this regard.
It was briefed to the Minister that Federal government is providing subsidy amounting to Rs. 2.0 billion for the Relief Package during the Holy month of Ramadan 2014. The essential consumer items are being provided on reduced rates through the Utility Stores all over the country. In addition the provincial government and ICT have taken following measures:
Government of the Punjab is providing subsidy worth Rs. 5 billion on provision of Atta to people. 14 Million Bags of Atta is being provided on subsidized rates.
− 332 Ramadan Bazaars have been established for provision of essential items at discounted rate.
− 332 Agriculture Fair Price Shops (Banana, Apple, Dates, Ladyfinger, Potato, Onion, Squash, Basin, Gram Pulse and Rice) are made available at whole sale rates.
− 1186 Price Magistrates have been deputed.
− 2000 Iftar Madni Dasterkhwans are hosted.
Government of Sindh has taken administrative steps in controlling the prices during month of Ramadan like:
− 128 Juma/Itwar Bazars have been established at Karachi on regular basis. One Sasta Bazars in each Divisional headquarter has been established during the month of Ramadan.
− Complaint centers have been established at all main markets.
− Measures have been taken through Market Committees to display the Price Lists in large fonts at the entrance of all the protected markets.
− Centralized complaint center at the Office of Bureau of Supply and Prices is also established.
− Field officers have been directed to remain in liaison with all the Deputy Commissioners for price monitoring.
Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has taken following measures:
− 150 regular Itwar/Jumma Bazars have been established in the province. 70 Special Sasta Bazars are established during the month of Ramadan.
− Special Meetings of District Price Review Committees is being convened on weekly basis in Ramadan to check the availability of essential commodities and also ensure stability of prices.
− Display of Price lists of essential commodities will be ensured at prominent places in the shops/ markets so as to curb overcharging and profiteering by vendors, shopkeepers and whole sale dealers.
− Special Teams, comprising representative of Local Administration, Price Magistrates Police, Industry/Labor, Health and Food Department constituted who shall carryout frequent/surprise checks and take stern legal action against hoarders/profiteers and adulterators under Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Food Stuff Control Order 1975.
− District Administration shall plan/ organize Friday and Sunday Bazars at suitable places to provide by eliminating the middlemen from trading.
Government of Balochistan has taken following measures to control price hike in Ramadan.
− 2 Juma/Itwar Bazars have been established in Quetta on regular basis. One Sasta Bazars in each District is being established. Out of 32 Districts Sasta Bazars have been established in 16 Districts.
− All the Deputy Commissioners have been advised to constitute District Price Control/ Monitoring Committees to review and notify prices of essential commodities and consumable items during the holy month of Ramadan. They will provide weekly progress report of the activities to the Monitoring Committees.
− Deputy Commissioners have also been directed to fix the prices of daily use items in consultation with all stakeholders and direct the retailers to hang the daily prices list in their shops/ stores.
− A Price Monitoring Team of the Directorate of Industries has also been constituted under the chairmanship of Deputy Director Industries.
− All Deputy Commissioners in the province have been directed to appoint Price Control Magistrates for each District in consultation with the Home Department, Government of Balochistan to act under the Profiteering and Hoarding Act.
− All Deputy Commissioners, the President Balochistan Industrialists Association, Quetta, and individual flour mills owners in Quetta have been requested to ensure the availability of abundant fine quality flour for the consumers.
− All Deputy Commissioners have been directed to ensure availability of Milk and Yogurt to the people during the month of Ramadan.
− Deputy Commissioners have been advised to establish sasta bazars in their jurisdiction and ensure availability quality items on subsidized rates.
Islamabad Capital Territory has taken following measures:
− Two Sasta Bazars has been established at Bhara Kahu and Koral.
− 35 Fair Prices Shops have been established in the urban and rural areas of Islamabad. Atta at these shops is available at Rs.660/- per 20 kg bag which is hundred rupees less than the market.
− Meeting with market representatives are held at Sabzi Mandi to check the role of middle man. Steps are also taken to motivate wholesale traders of sabzi mandi for timely import of these fruits/vegetables whose supplies are not sufficient from local farmers. These measures have resulted in reduction of fruits/vegetables prices upto 70% in recent days.
Eleven teams comprising of AC’s/MIC’s has been constituted to conduct raids during the Ramadan in order to enforce rates fixed by District Administration. The teams will conduct raids on daily basis to prosecute profiteers/hoarders. These teams will also monitor the sasta bazaars/fair price shops and will ensure the quality of food items.
The meeting reviewed the trend of inflationary indicators including the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Food, Non-Food, Core, Wholesale Price index (WPI) and Sensitive Price Index (SPI). The CPI recorded at 8.2 percent during June 2014, similarly SPI and WPI also registered at 6.2 percent and 7.7 percent respectively.
The SPI for the week ended on 3rd July 2014 recorded an increase 0.59 percent due to increase in prices of some commodities however out of 53 items, prices of 21 items registered increase while prices of 05 items decreased and prices of 27 items remained stable as compared to last week ended on 26-6-2014.
The food items which registered increase in their prices are Tomatoes 38.20%, Onions 14.15%, Bananas 5.21%, Potatoes 3.55%, L.P.G. 1.86%, Sugar 1.18%, Lawn 0.76%, Red Chillies 0.72%, Moong Plus 0.55%, Mutton 0.51%, Egg 0.41%, Milk Fresh 0.29%, Mash Pulse 0.27%, Masoor Pulse 0.25%, Wheat 0.20% and Veg. Ghee (Loose) 0.03%.
The items which recorded decrease in their prices are Chicken Farm 3.37%, Garlic 0.97%, Gram Pulse 0.80%, Wheat Flour 0.61% and Kerosene Oil 1.10%. It was also observed that in comparison with the regional countries, Pakistan is the lowest in prices of Wheat, Wheat Flour Chicken Farm, Red Chillies, Gram Pulse and Sugar and 2nd lowest in Eggs, Beef, Rice Basmati, Petrol, Veg. Ghee, Garlic, Tomatoes, Onion, Urea, DAP and Milk Fresh while Mutton, Diesel, Tea and Potatoes are higher in Pakistan.
The committee 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. It was noted that in most items prices in Baluchistan is higher as compared to other provinces.
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