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Hafeez urges administrative action to reduce profiteering

ISLAMABAD: Finance Adviser Dr Hafeez Shaikh on Monday urged provincial governments to take necessary administrative measures to reduce high-profit margins between wholesale and retail levels.

The direction came from the adviser during the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) meeting which he was chaired. Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar, Special Assistant on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, and federal secretaries attended the meeting while provincial chief secretaries joined via video link.

Quoting the finance adviser, an official statement issued after the meeting said it was the government’s responsibility to ensure availability of essential items for consumers at affordable prices.

Dr Shaikh held a detailed discussion with the provincial chief secretaries regarding position of wheat and sugar stocks in the provinces. The meeting was informed that at present, sufficient quantities are available to meet existing demand.

Adviser finance emphasised the provincial governments to ensure smooth supply of essential items.

The NPMC reviewed the price trend of essential commodities including wheat flour, sugar, tomatoes, onions, vegetable ghee, potatoes and chicken on weekly basis.

Presenting the price trend of essential commodities, Finance Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch noted that in the latest SPI released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, there was a decline in the prices of 10 essential commodities (including wheat flour, sugar, onions, tomatoes and chicken) while the prices of 11 commodities increased slightly. Price of 30 items remained stable.

Adviser finance expressed satisfaction over declining price trend in wheat flour, sugar, onion and tomatoes as compared to October 2020.

Secretary National Food Security and Research Omar Hamid Khan presented a brief update on import of wheat during the meeting. The Logistics Committee played a key role in resolving issues related to wheat and sugar stocks among provinces, he underlined.

The meeting asked provincial governments and Utility Stores Corporation (USC) should reassess their import requirements for wheat and sugar and take up with the Ministry of National Food Security and Research accordingly so that the matter may be placed before ECC for approval. The Ministry of Production will take up the requirement of wheat and sugar for USC with Pakistan Agricultural Storage & Services Corporation Ltd and Trading Corporation Pakistan immediately.

The finance adviser stressed that provincial governments should workout plan to ensure smooth supply of perishable items in order to avoid any undue price hike.

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