ISLAMABAD: The government is likely to impose ban on export of tomatoes and onions for three months aimed at arresting increase in their prices, well informed sources told Business Recorder.
Finance Minister, Shaukat Tarin, who presided over a meeting of National Price Committee recently, directed Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of National Food Security and Research (NFS&R) to impose ban after consultation.
The meeting was apprised that although no official ban is imposed on the export of perishable items, no exports of onions have been witnessed in the last month, while the onions and tomatoes are being imported from Afghanistan.
Finance Minister appreciated the imports of these items to make sufficient supply for the domestic consumers and showed concern for not imposing complete ban on exports of these items.
Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of National Food Security and Research were directed to look into the matter of complete ban on export of perishable items to fill the demand supply gap in the country through domestic supply of these commodities.
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The meeting also noted that Punjab has started release of wheat on daily basis at the price determined by the Federal government. It was observed that prices of wheat flour inched up during the week ended September 16, 2021. Provincial governments were directed to make sure the availability of wheat at the specified price.
Regarding sugar, the meeting noted that sugar prices are under pressure in the market as the national average price is around Rs.108 per Kg. Ministry of Industries & Production informed that 0.2 million tons of imported sugar has arrived in the country. Punjab will lift the sugar and keep 0.15 million tons, whereas KP will be provided 50,000 ton. It was further added that requirements of Utility Stores Corporation (USC), and other provinces will also be arranged as per their requisite demand.
Finance Minister directed Punjab government to lift the sugar at the earliest with arrival of vessel and ensure imported sugar supply as already decided and subsidy will be contributed accordingly. Provincial governments were directed to make consultation with the Ministry of Industries& Production to ensure the sale of sugar in the market at the price set by the government.
Ministry of Industries & Production also informed that remaining 0.2 million imported sugar will cost around Rs118 per kg in the country. Finance Minister directed to bring the summary in ECC to look into the matter deeply by keeping in view the arrival of domestic produce in the country.
Chief Secretary Punjab told the meeting about the price collection methodology of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) and identified discrepancies in the data.
He presented a comparison among prices reported by PBS in SPl and the prices collected through joint visits by PBS officials and provincial department for the essential items in Rawalpindi. It was observed that higher prices are reported in the SPI. The chair directed PBS to improve its price collection/ reporting methodology to make it more representative by considering observations of the provincial governments and the ICT administration.
The chair also asserted that the matter should be discussed in the Governing Council of the PBS.
PBS representative informed that quorum of the governing council is not completed yet and will convene meeting once the quorum is completed.
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Finance Minister directed Chief Statistician to expedite the process and also offered the assistance to expedite it as early as possible. The Chair added that major policy decisions are linked with price data/inflation of the country; therefore, its estimation methodology and process should be free from errors and capture actual ground realities.
SAPM on NFS&R informed that PBS collected the prices of branded oil/ghee in their weekly SPI while majority of population are using B grade oil/ghee. He further added that milk is heavy weight item in the SPl and prices are Rs. 10 to 20 higher per litre in Karachi, which also affects the national average price of milk in SPI as Karachi has higher weightage in coverage.
After detailed deliberations, following decisions were taken:- (i) M/o Commerce with the consultation of M/o NFS&R will impose ban on export of tomatoes & onions for the next three months ;(ii) Government of Punjab to lift the imported sugar and ensure its provision to KP for smooth supply of sugar;(iii) SAPM on NFS&R and Secretary Industries & Production to devise the mechanism for injecting sugar into the market and ensure its price in the market as determined by the Government and PBS to improve its price collection/reporting methodology to market more representative considering the observations of the government of Punjab, other provinces and ICT.