Finance Minister Initiates Wheat and Sugar Procurement Drive
Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Mr. Shaukat Tarin, presided over the meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) held at the Finance Division.
The Finance Minister directed the food ministry to work out modalities to maintain strategic reserves of sugar and wheat to ensure smooth supply at affordable prices during the upcoming financial year. The Finance Minister directed to initiate an international procurement drive of wheat and sugar through public, private, and G2G arrangements.
Secretary Finance briefed the meeting and informed that the weekly SPI increased by 0.28 percent for the week ended on 17th June 2021 after a three weeks consecutive decline. Prices of 09 items declined, 21 items slightly increased, and 21 items remained stable.
He apprised the movement of essential items during the last six weeks, as well as price comparison among the provinces and ICT. The Chair noted that prices in ICT are declining in most of the items and appreciated the efforts of ICT administration. He directed the provincial governments must also mobilize their teams to provide relief to the common man by strict monitoring of prices.
The Chair highlighted the issue with the Ministry of Industries & Production regarding prices of palm oil and Soyabean are on a declining trend in the international market, but its impact on the domestic market so far has not been observed. The Chair directed M/o Industries & Production to hold a meeting with ghee/edible oil manufacturers to transmit the declining trend of international oil prices to the local consumers. The Government will take strict action if any obstacle is observed anywhere in the country.
MD USC informed the forum that they are working on a national plan of extending the number of USC outlets all over the country. The Chair directed MD USC, in consultation with the Government of Balochistan, to work out a detailed plan of establishing USC outlets across Balochistan at the spots where maximum consumers may benefit from the essential items at subsidized rates.
M/o NFS&R gave a detailed presentation regarding the production cycle of perishable items like tomatoes, potatoes, and onions, along with pulses. In the case of pulses, two-third of the demand is being fulfilled through imports. Thus, there is a need to build strategic reserves to ensure smooth supply, achieve price stability and reduce international dependence. M/o NFS&R was directed to prepare an emergency plan for establishing cold storage and warehouses in key areas where perishable food items are produced and also explore feasible options of collaboration of the Public-Private Partnership model in this regard.
Chief Secretary KP briefed the meeting about the value chain analysis of essential items. The Chair noted that there is a huge margin of profit being earned by the wholesalers who purchase from the farmers. The Chair directed provincial governments of Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan to present the value chain analysis of essential items in the upcoming NPMC and corrective measures to ease out price hikes.
The Finance Minister was briefed that as per international commodities’ prices comparison published by the World Bank, the international price of sugar has increased by 58.3 percent (Year-on-Year). Similarly, the international price of Soyabean oil increased to a whopping 119.20 percent in a Year-on-Year comparison, whereas registered an increase of 23.5 percent during the last month (April-May 2021). The COVID-19 crisis has played havoc with the international supply chain scenario and fueled food inflation all over the globe.
Furthermore, the international price trend in palm oil indicates an increase of 102.6 percent (Year-on-Year) and 7.9 percent during the last month.
Going by the aforesaid international trend, the domestic price hike couldn’t be avoided as Pakistan is the net importer of staple food commodities like Wheat, Sugar, Edible oil, pulses, etc. During these testing times, the Government has taken all possible measures to provide maximum relief to the masses during pandemic-induced global food inflation crisis.
In his concluding remarks, the Finance Minister stressed that Government is fully cognizant of its responsibility regarding the provision of essential items at affordable prices across the board. Keeping in view the fact that Pakistan is a net importer of food, the Government has taken all-out measures to provide essential items through a network of Sahulat/SaastaBaazars, hefty subsidies through a chain of Utility Stores outlets under the Ramadan Package and is taking strict administrative measures to keep prices of basic items in check.
SAPM on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Waqar Masood, Secretary Finance Division, Additional Secretary M/o NFS&R, Secretary Commerce, Additional Secretary M/o PD&SI, Member PBS, Commissioner Islamabad, Chief Secretaries of the Provincial Governments, and other senior officers participated in the meeting.