CCP to expedite inquiry and follow due course of action to put an end to anti-competitive activities
ISLAMABAD – Finance Minister Shaukat Fayyaz Ahmed Tarin on Monday directed to procure another 100,000 tonnes of sugar in due course of time to ensure strategic reserves of key commodities for price stability.
Ministry of Industries and Production Secretary has updated the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) that arrangements have been made to import one lac tonnes of sugar by 15th August 2021. However, finance minister has directed to procure another 100,000 tonnes of sugar in due course of time to ensure strategic reserves of key commodities for price stability. The Secretary Industries and Production further apprised that sufficient reserves of sugar will be available till the arrival of the new sugarcane crop.
He further apprised the NPMC that sufficient stocks of wheat are available in the country. He also informed that arrangements are underway for importing wheat for building strategic reserves (as approved by ECC) and the whole process would be completed soon.
Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Shaukat Fayyaz Ahmed Tarin chaired a meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC). The Secretary Finance briefed the Committee about a slight increase of 0.07 per cent in weekly Sensitive Price Index (SPI) indicating price stability as compared to the previous weeks. The NPMC also reviewed the year-on-year weekly inflation. It is pertinent to mention that the year-on-year weekly inflation is coming down for the last two months from a high of 17.23 per cent on 20 May 2021 to 12.28 per cent on 08 July 2021, which is a significant decline in SPI. Similarly, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) (as released on 01 July 2021) showed an annual inflation at national level at 8.9 per cent which was down from 10.74 per cent a year ago, while urban and rural inflation were at 8.15 per cent and 10.05 per cent as compared to 10.17 per cent and 11.63 per cent respectively. Clearly, the inflation is coming down across all measures.
The finance minister constituted a working group under the umbrella of NPMC comprising of provincial chief secretaries, secretary finance division and representatives of PBS, M/o NFS&R and other relevant departments to workout measures for bringing price stability in basic commodities by using mystery shopping exercise and building strategic reserves of key commodities namely wheat, sugar, pulses, ghee, tomatoes, onions and potatoes in order to eliminate undue profit margins and ensure availability of items of daily use at affordable prices across the country.
This will minimise price differential between farm gate prices and retail rates. The finance minister directed the Chairperson, CCP to expedite inquiry and follow due course of action to put an end to anti-competitive activities. No cartelisation will be allowed at any cost and strict action will be taken against hoarding and undue profiteering, he affirmed.
The CCP also shared findings about presence of 4000 Artis (middlemen) across 36 districts in Punjab dealing with the prices of basic vegetables. After reviewing the findings of the CCP, the finance minister directed to build a model/frame work in which DCs/ACs are assigned to monitor a specific number of Artis to eliminate price maneuvering. Such model can be replicated in other Provinces to minimise the price differential across the whole chain i.e. from farm gate to retail prices of basic commodities.
The finance minister also constituted a Committee comprising of provincial chief secretaries, secretary finance, secretary NFS&R, Chairperson CCP and representative of PBS to formulate an action plan and hold all those accountable who are involved in price-fixation and anti-competitive activities after fulfilling all codal formalities. Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research Syed Fakhar Imam, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, SAPM on Finance and Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, Secretary Finance Division, Secretary, Ministry of Industries and Production, Secretary M/o National Food Security & Research, Chairman FBR, Provincial Chief Secretaries, MD PASSCO, MD Utility Store Corporation, Chairman CCP, Deputy Commissioner, Islamabad and other senior officers of the Finance Division participated in the meeting.