February 19, 2020: The meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee was held under the chairmanship of the Secretary Finance at the Finance Division.
Senior representatives of the Provincial Governments, ICT Administration, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Utility Stores Corporation, Pakistan Customs, and Cabinet Division attended the meeting.
Data on CPI and SPI was presented by the Economic Adviser’s wing at the Finance Division with input from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. It was noted that inflation has increased around 14.6% in January when compared to the same period last year, the noteworthy aspect being observed is that during the past five weeks the SPI (Sensitive Price Index) was showing a declining trend. On the week ending on 13th Feb 2020, SPI was -0.38. The prices of 13 items decreased and 19 remained stable in the past week. It was observed that wheat was the cheapest in Punjab and highest in Sindh (Rs 809 per 20 kg and Rs 1058 respectively).
Secretary Finance, after concluding the discussion on the prices of the essential items and a follow up on the decisions taken in the last meeting, made the following concluding remarks; he was also joined by Secretary NFS&R.
Prices of essential items are increasing in the markets around the country and causing unrest in the public, but it must also be remembered that after devolution the function of price control falls under the domain of the Provinces. They must accept this responsibility and make efforts to appease the masses.
The local governments should be ready and prepared to take additional measures during Ramazan to save masses from price hike. If any help is required from the Federal Government, the Federal Government shall be ready to facilitate.
Provinces should share information as to which items other than the essential items, they think, add to inflation and how the government can help in coping with the scarcity. They should also share and guide the federal government and other provincial governments that how network of sasta bazaars will help to reduce inflationary pressures on the common man.
Hoarding for profiteering should be checked at every level and every stage and necessary action under the law should be taken against profiteers and hoarders.
The local government heads should ensure display of price lists and its applicability.
Smuggling of essential food items should be dealt with utmost severity.
As far as the Federal Government is concerned, Secretary Finance stated, the issue is being taken with utmost importance as the Prime Minister is particularly interested in reducing the burden on the common man which is increasing due to increase in prices. The PM is personally engaging the provincial Chief Secretaries twice a week to ensure swift action. The PM has also given subsidy to Utility stores Corporation (Rs 15 billion) and there are suggestions to open more of the stores in various parts of the country where they are needed. Federal Government is also taking measures to control smuggling of essential food items. Ministry of NFS&R is also preparing proposals to be approved by ECC that will help in controlling the deficiency of essential items. The Federal Government is doing everything possible in its domain.
The Secretary said that “there will be accountability for all those who are not taking the appropriate action keeping in view the distress the general public is enduring due to increase in the prices, as the Government is mindful of the welfare of the people”.
It was also decided that there will be a follow up meeting in the next week as the PM has special interest in reducing the level of prices of essential items all over the country.