ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin Wednesday directed the Commerce Ministry to speed up the process of banning export of perishable commodities for the next three months to ensure their availability at affordable prices to consumers.
The finance minister directed this, while presiding over the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) meeting.
He directed the Commerce Ministry to ban the export of perishable items in consultation with the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.
While taking stock of the situation, the finance minister expressed satisfaction over the release of wheat by the provincial government of Punjab at the notified rate, which is easing out price of wheat flour bags in the province.
The decision has been taken in view of seasonal variations as well as rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan.
The meeting also noted that the current hike in international prices of food commodities may continue to remain strong in the months to follow due to global supply bottlenecks, with the finance minister stating that inflation in food commodities is an international phenomenon at the moment.
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The government has taken a range of measures to absorb pressure of the international price hike in staple food items by providing subsidies in order to provide maximum relief to the consumers, he said, adding that the government is fully aware of its responsibility to ensure smooth supply of essential commodities throughout the country.
The finance minister also directed the provincial chief secretaries of Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to fast track the process for releasing wheat at the price determined by the government after fulfilling requisite formalities.
He once again expressed firm commitment of the government to ensure smooth supply of wheat flour across the country at government specified price.
Earlier, the secretary finance briefed the NPMC about decline in weekly SPI by 0.07 percent. The rise in global food commodities and petroleum prices due to the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the prices of essential food items worldwide.
The continuous uptick in international food prices is affecting the domestic prices as Pakistan is a net importer of staple food items, wheat, sugar, edible oil, and pulses, he added.
Managing director USCs informed the meeting about the progress on automation of processes and integration with Ehsaas data system to work out a mechanism for provision of direct subsidies to the beneficiaries as per the eligibility criteria.
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He further updated about the installation of point of sales.
The finance minister directed him to complete the entire process of automation by December 2021.
Member Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) presented a detailed presentation about collection of prices across various cities/markets to compile weekly SPI.
The meeting directed the SAPM on Food Security to hold consultative sessions with the provincial chief secretaries, secretary Ministry of Industries and Production and the chief commissioner ICT to sort out issues in effective coverage of markets to ensure data collected by the PBS reflects the prevailing trend of prices of the items of daily use including Saasta Sahulat Baazars for extensive and accurate calculation.