Inflation in food commodities is an international phenomenon: Tarin

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Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Mr. Shaukat Tarin, presided over the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) meeting held at the Finance Division. Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research Syed Fakhar Imam, Minister of State on Information Farrukh Habib, SAPM on Food Security Jamshed Iqbal Cheema, Secretary Finance Division, Secretary M/o Industries and Production, Additional Secretary Commerce, Provincial Chief Secretaries, Chief Commissioner Islamabad, Chief Statistician PBS, MD Utility Stores Corporation (USCs), Chairperson CCP, Member FBR, MD PASSCO and other senior officers participated in the meeting.

The Secretary Finance briefed the NPMC about decline in weekly SPI by 0.07%. The rise in global food commodities and petroleum prices due to COVID-19 pandemic has affected the prices of essential food items worldwide. The continuous uptick in international food prices is affecting the domestic prices as Pakistan is a net importer of staple food items namely wheat, sugar, edible oil and pulses, he added.

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While taking stock of the situation, the Finance Minister expressed satisfaction over the release of wheat by the Provincial Government of Punjab at the Government specified rate which is easing out price of wheat flour bags in the province. The Finance Minister directed the Provincial Chief Secretaries of Sindh, Balochistan and KP to expedite the process for releasing wheat at the price determined by the Government after fulfilling requisite formalities. The Finance Minister reiterated the firm commitment of the Government to ensure smooth supply of wheat flour across the country at government specified price.

The Finance Minister also directed M/o Commerce to expedite the process of banning export of perishable commodities in consultation with M/o NFS&R for next three months to ensure availability of such commodities at an affordable price to the consumers. The decision has been taken in view of seasonal variations as well as rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan.

MD USCs apprised the Committee about the progress on automation of processes and integration with Ehsaas data system to work out a mechanism for provision of direct subsidies to the beneficiaries as per eligibility criteria. The MD further updated about the installation of point of sales. The Finance Minister, as chairman of NPMC, directed MD USC to complete the entire process of automation by December, 2021.

Member PBS presented a detailed presentation about collection of prices across different cities/markets to compile weekly SPI. The NPMC directed SAPM on Food Security to hold consultative sessions with Provincial Chief Secretaries, Secretary Ministry of Industries and Production and Chief Commissioner ICT to sort out issues in effective coverage of markets to ensure data collected by PBS reflects the prevailing trend of prices of the items of daily use including Saasta Sahulat Baazars for extensive and accurate calculation.

While reviewing prices of essential commodities, the NPMC noted that current hike in international prices of food commodities may continue to remain strong in the months to follow due to global supply bottlenecks.

In his concluding remarks, the Finance Minister stated that inflation in food commodities is an international phenomenon at the moment. The Government has taken a range of measures to absorb pressure of the international price hike in staple food items by providing subsidies in order to provide maximum relief to the consumers. The Government is fully cognizant of its responsibility to ensure smooth supply of essential commodities throughout the country, he added.