National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) met on Thursday to take stock of supply and prices of food and pharmaceutical items. The meeting was chaired by Finance Minister Asad Umar and attended by relevant federal ministries and provincial departments.
The meeting reviewed prices of perishable and non-perishable food items, particularly 28 essential kitchen items. The committee was informed that volatility in the prices of perishable items specifically tomatoes, onions, grams and pulses was primarily due to seasonal variations which has now subsided. The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI), which monitors mostly kitchen items for last two consecutive weeks in March 2019, is showing a sharp declining trend which suggests that the prices of these items in the market are on a downward trajectory.
The meeting decided that a strong forecasting mechanism will be put in place to ensure availability of essential food items for the coming 3 – 6 months in consultation with the provincial governments. A monthly meeting of NPMC will be held regularly to review supply and prices of all commodities and timely measures will be put in place to avoid any shortage in the country. Finance Minister directed that market committees may be made more proactive to play a vigilant role in effectively monitoring prices and check any hoarding across the country. It was also agreed to reduce price disparity among the provinces through an integrated market mechanism.
NPMC decided that laws would be reviewed to ensure that price control mechanism proactively focuses on cartelization, hoarding and undue profiteering. The meeting reviewed the availability of commodities with particular reference to Ramzan. The Utility Store Corporation assured NPMC that Government’s Ramzan Package will be implemented to ensure sufficient availability of commodities at affordable prices. The meeting agreed that Susta bazaars, Itwar bazaars and fair price shops will be increased throughout the country to ensure sufficient availability of commodities for common man at affordable prices.
The Prime Minister will chair a meeting to further review the supply and prices of food and pharmaceuticals in the country on Monday 8th April 2019. The concerned ministries will submit short- and medium-term policy recommendations as well as structural measures needed to ensure smooth supply and stability in the prices to the Prime Minister.