Islamabad: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday asked the relevant authorities to monitor the increasing trend in prices of perishable and non-perishable kitchen items and submit reports to arrest the trend.
The finance minister expressed concern over increasing price trend in kitchen items, such as onion, tomatoes and pulses.
The Ministry of Food Security and Research as well as Utilities Store Corporation were directed to immediately submit their findings to the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet.
Dar gave these directives while presiding over a meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee. The meeting was informed that for the last five weeks the Sensitive Price Index (SPI), which monitors price trend of kitchen items, is surging.
He directed the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) to identify gaps in the existing legal/policy framework relating to price and supply of essential commodities and keep a close watch on the undertakings in the informal food sector for market manipulation and submit concrete recommendations after full review based on substantial analysis.
As a result of several measures, including monetary and fiscal policies, the inflation fell to an 11-year low in the outgoing fiscal year.
The SPI for the week ended on June 18 recorded 0.25 per cent increase. Out of 53, prices of 18 items registered increase while prices of 10 decreased and prices of 25 items remained stable as compared to last week ended on June 11.
The committee reviewed the price trend of 28 selected items in provinces.
Some variations in prices of wheat, wheat flour, rice basmati (broken), beef, mutton, chicken (farm) and mustard oil were observed.
It was noted that in most items, prices in Balochistan are higher as compared to other provinces.
In Punjab, 316 Ramazan bazaars have been established for provision of essential items at discounted rate. Fair price shops have been established in each bazaar where items including banana, apple, dates, ladyfinger, potato, onion, squash, bitter gourd, baisin, gram pulse and rice were available at wholesale rate.
Moreover, 1,525 price magistrates have been deputed and 2,000 Iftar Madni Dasterkhwans have been established.
The Government of Punjab provided subsidy worth Rs3.5 billion for provision of subsidised flour (atta).
Through this intervention, 14 million bags of atta will be provided on subsidised rates. Sugar is being sold in 1kg and 2kg packaging at the rate of Rs52 a kg.
Government of Sindh has also taken a number of measures. Manufacturers of edible oil and ghee have agreed to provide discounted rate in bachat bazaars. Weekly bazaars will ensure availability all essential commodities at discounted rates.
Similarly measures are being taken in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
The meeting was informed that ICT administration has also taken a number of initiatives to extend the relief to the general public. The federal government has announced a package of Rs1.5 billion for subsidy on food items at utility stores.
The 20kg atta at utility stores will be available at Rs635 at 43 utility stores of ICT.
Moreover, 10-20pc discount will be given on other food items at the stores.
Twenty-three price magistrates have been deputed to conduct price checking in their respective areas and submit daily reports. The teams are allocated areas pertaining to ICT police stations.
The finance minister further directed that display of price lists should be strictly enforced.