ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday expressed concern over rising prices of chicken, poultry products and gram pulse despite lucrative incentives offered to the two sectors and otherwise lower rate of inflation.
At a meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) represented by all the provinces, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar took notice of the rising trend in prices of chicken and poultry products and said there was no justification for such increase when the government had facilitated the poultry industry.
He directed the Ministry of Food Security and Research to investigate the rise in prices of chicken and poultry products when the government had already given concessions to the industry in the form of withdrawal of additional sales tax and exemption of withholding tax. The minister deplored that despite clear directives of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet in September 2015 gram pulse had not been imported resultantly its prices were now under pressure.
He directed the Utility Stores Corporation to look into the matter and ensure that prices do not surge in view of forthcoming Ramazan when demand for gram pulse increases manifold.
He also observed that in February sufficient quantity of other pulses were imported, therefore, the prices should not be allowed to increase.
The meeting also expressed concern over rising prices of powdered milk and directed the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) to expedite their findings so that the cartelisation may not further exploit the general public. It was noted that the prices of dairy products were declining globally but these were rising in the country and hence there was need to ensure that benefit of lower international prices should reach the general public.
The meeting noted that headline inflation measured by Consumer Price Index (CPI) was recorded at 4 per cent in February as compared to 3.2pc in same month last year, but average inflation during July-February period of 2015-16 it was recorded at 2.48pc as compared to 5.45pc in the corresponding period last year.
An official statement said the headline inflation and other inflation indicators were on downward trajectory due to effective monetary and prudent fiscal policies, along with better supply of commodities in the market despite flood and rains. Vigilant monitoring of prices both at federal and provincial level, coupled with decline in global commodity prices had helped in passing on benefit to the general public.
The meeting noted that the Sensitive Price Index (SPI), which monitors the prices of kitchen items, maintained the declining trend during the last six weeks. However, the SPI increased by 0.17pc during last week that ended on March 17, 2016. Out of 53 items, prices of 12 items decreased, 10 items increased and 31 items remained stable.
The meeting also reviewed the administrative measures to control the prices and extend the coverage of more sasta bazaars and weekly bazaars for the benefit of people and appreciated steps taken by the Punjab government in establishing model sasta bazaar.
Mr Dar advised other provinces to follow Punjab for providing quality essential items to public in a congenial environment at affordable prices.
The CCP presented a report on hoarding, profiteering and breaking cartelisation in essential food commodities. The meeting ordered constitution of a committee, represented by all the federal and provincial stakeholders, to take short- and long-term measures as highlighted by the CCP, under the aegis of the Ministry of Food Security and Research to prepare a plan for implementation.
The meeting noted 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.