PR No.220 National Price Monitoring Committee Meeting Islamabad: March 24, 2016

The National Price Monitoring Committee meeting was held here on Thursday. Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting.

The meeting was informed that headline inflation CPI in February recorded at 4.0% as compared to 3.2% in February last year. However, on average during July-Feb. 2016 it is recorded at 2.48% compared to 5.45% of last year.

The headline inflation and other inflation indicators are on downward trajectory due to effective monetary and prudent fiscal policies, along with better supply of commodities in the market despite floods and rains, vigilant monitoring of prices both at federal and provincial level, coupled with decline in global commodity prices, whose benefit has been passed on to general public.

The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) which monitors the prices of kitchen items remained on declining trend during last six weeks. However, the week ended on 17th March 2016 increased by 0.17%. Out of 53 items, prices of 12 items decreased, 10 items increased and 31 items remained stable.

While reviewing the prices of commodities captured in SPI for the week ended on 17th March 2016, the Finance Minister took notice of the increase in prices of chicken and directed Ministry of Food Security and Research to investigate the rise in prices of chicken and poultry products whereas the government has already given concessions to the poultry products such as withdrawal of additional sales tax and exemption of withholding tax.

He also noticed that despite ECC directives in September 2015 for the import of gram pulse to stabilize the prices, the import has not taken place and the prices are under pressure. He directed Utility Stores Corporation to look into this that the prices may not surge in view of forthcoming Ramzan when demand of this commodity increases manifold. He also observed that in February sufficient quantity of pulses have been imported; therefore the prices should not be allowed to increase.

The Minister while reviewing the administrative measures to control the prices and extend the coverage of more sasta bazaars/itwar bazar for the benefit of people taken by provincial governments and ICT appreciated the efforts made by Govt. of Punjab in establishing model sasta bazaar, where the Punjab government has provided the services such as free electricity, security, cleanliness, conducive business environment, free parking, trolley system, play area/ joy land, food court, prayer area and washrooms.

The Minister advised other provinces to follow Punjab Model to provide quality essential items to public in state of the art infrastructure and a congenial environment where people can get essential items at affordable prices. The Minister expressed satisfaction that provincial government/ICT have taken measures in reducing the fares of transport on account of decline of the petrol and diesel prices.

The meeting also reviewed the essential item’s prices in sasta bazaar and open market and noted that the prices are 15-20% lower in sasta bazaar as compared to open market. The Minister urged that the people should benefit from these bazars.

The Minster also noticed the rising trend of powder milk prices and directed CCP to expedite their findings so that the cartelization may not further exploit the general public, as globally the diary product prices are declining, therefore the benefits should be passed on to the general public.

The CCP presented the report in compliance of the Minister’s directive to control hoarding, profiteering and breaking cartelization in essential food commodities to protect consumers from anti competitive practices, identified the gaps relating to pricing and supply of essential food commodities and suggested short and long term measures which the Minister appreciated and directed composition of a committee comprising relevant stakeholders and provincial governments under Ministry of Food Security and Research to prepare a proactive doable plan for implementation.

The meeting noted the price movement of essential items and observed that the prices of Rice Basmati Broken, Rice Irri-6, Chicken, Eggs, Mustard Oil, Cooking Oil, Vegetable Ghee (tin and loose), Moong Pulse, Potatoes and Tomatoes decreased as compared to last year while the prices of Wheat, Wheat Flour, Beef, Mutton, Milk Fresh, Powdered Milk, Mash Pulse, Gram Pulse, Onions, Sugar, Red Chillies and Garlic increased.

The meeting also reviewed the regional price comparison of essential commodities among Islamabad, New Delhi and Dhaka and observed that the prices of wheat, wheat flour, chicken farm, petrol, diesel, rice basmati, vegetable ghee, eggs and masoor pulses are lowest in Pakistan as compared to New Delhi and Dhaka and second lowest in beef, milk fresh, sugar, mutton, moong pulse, mash pulse, red chillies and higher in tomatoes, DAP, onion, gram pulse, tea and urea.

The meeting was attended by representatives from the Provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhthunkhwa, Islamabad Capital Territory, Ministries of Industries, Law and Justice, Commerce, National Food Security and Research, Interior, Planning Development and Reforms, Inter Provincial Coordination, Statistics Division, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Utility Stores Corporation and Federal Bureau of Revenues.