Islamabad: A meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee was held under the chairmanship of Secretary Finance which was attended by the representatives from the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Ministries of Commerce, Planning and Development, Industries, FBR, Competition Commission, and ICT Administration. The meeting reviewed the price trend of essential items and measures to stabilize them during the month of Ramadan.
The meeting noted that the food prices had shown an increase during July before the start of Ramadan which appeared to be seasonal. It was observed that wheat, wheat flour, rice basmati, moong, gram, beef, mutton, milk fresh, veg-ghee, cooking oil, red chillies with 40% weight in the SPI basket have contributed 7.53% to the overall increase in SPI of 16.5 % during the period July 2010-July 2011.
Food inflation is being fuelled by a combination of global trends in commodity prices and supply and demand-driven factors largely beyond the control of national entities. International commodity prices have risen steadily during July 2010- July 2011 led by increase in prices of sugar (61.6%), wheat (55.1%), crude oil prices ($/Brl) 54%, edible oil: (palm oil 34.8% and soya bean oil 47.4%), rice (27.8%) and tea (8.8%) per $/ton. In a regional comparison of 20 commodities, it was pointed out that prices of wheat, wheat flour, chicken (farm), onion and garlic are lowest in Pakistan compared to other countries in the region like India and Bangladesh.
The meeting extensively reviewed the arrangements made by the provincial governments and Islamabad administration to control the prices of food items and ensuring smooth supply during the Holy month of Ramadan.
Punjab Government informed the meeting that 308 Ramadan bazaars have been established in Lahore, DG Khan, Bahawalpur, Sahiwal, Multan, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Rawalpindi Divisions. Arrangements have been made for regular supply of sugar, wheat flour, chicken, meat and ghee in Raman Bazaars at rates lower than the market. District Administrations are intervening wherever minor issues arise. The Agriculture Marketing Department is providing potatoes, onions, dates, banana, lady finger, bitter gourd, squash, basin, gram pulse and rice at 33 fair price shops on wholesale prices.
A Provincial Control Room has been set up to receive reports from the districts in the province and Consumer Courts were also working to address the grievances of the people. District Administrations have been told to remain vigil and intervene on complaints of profiteering and shortages. With regard to monitoring mechanism, Standard Operating Procedures for robust performance of District Price Control Committees have been issued to all Commissioners and DCOs. Commissioners/DCOs are closely monitoring the performance of bazaars through Price Control Magistrates and regular visits of members of District Price Control Committees. Moreover, they have also been directed to include monitoring of Juma/Itwar bazaars to ensure availability of permanent agenda item and provide a feed back to strengthen effective working of these bazaars.
Revolving funds for Agriculture package inclusive of 10 items of quality product with less than market rates is also available for the consumer and DCOs/DPOs have also made arrangements of small package of 3-4 dates for Iftar distributing by their Traffic Warden/ Police.
The Government of Sindh has created a full-fledged department i.e. Supply and Price Department and revived Bureau of Supply and Prices under its administrative control to monitor, evaluate, regulate and fix the prices of essential commodities by ensuring its smooth supply. It has also drafted the laws i.e. Sindh Essential Commodities, Price control and Prevention of Profiteering and Hoarding Act 2010 and the Sindh Consumer Protection Act 2011. The draft bill envisages a mechanism to contain the prices at reasonable level, by preventing profiteering and hoarding. It also provides an opportunity to the public to raise their voice against sub-standard products and lack of services, in consumer councils and courts.
The Government of Sindh has also established Weekly Bachat bazaars especially in Karachi. There are 83 Bachat bazaars being run on weekly basis on various days such as Juma bazaar, Itwar, Mangal bazaar, Hafta bazaar etc. To facilitate the public at large, these bazaars have been established on central point of different localities which cater to the requirement of almost in all towns of Karachi. In addition 100 additional bazaars are under consideration to be established.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Special Price Magistrates have been activated under Food Stuff Ordinance 1975 to effectively check and control the prices of essential items and to ensure the prices in accordance with displayed price list. The District Price Monitoring Committees have been asked to report to Provincial Monitoring Committees and close liaison is established with Price Magistrates to ensure availability of essential items on the price fixed by the Government. Special raiding teams have also been established and spot trials are conducted. Itwar and Sasta bazaars have been established in Peshawar, Charsadda and Nowshera. In addition as per their local tradition melas have also been declared as Sasta bazaars and availability of essential items are ensured at affordable price.
In Balochistan, Sasta bazaars have been established in Quetta. However, in view of insurgency, outreach extension has not been done. It has been ensured that Deputy Commissioners who are the Chairmen of District Price Committees in their respective districts are assisted by the Magistrates and Police force to implement the prices fixed by the Government in respect of essential items and report timely to the Commissioners. Section 144 of CrPC has been imposed during the Ramzan to stop smuggling of Livestock. Prices of milk have been fixed category-wise. Shopkeepers, who do not display the revised price list in their shops, are fined.
ISLAMABAD CAPITAL TERRITORY
ICT Administration is making hectic efforts to control the price hike of different items in ICT like beef, mutton, daals, atta, roti, fruit/vegetables etc. All the Assistant Commissioners and Magistrates have been directed to carry out surprise checking of prices in the markets and ensure display of rate lists. In this regard, a result oriented campaign is under progress during Ramzan and would remain intact later on too.
In order to provide relief to the consumers and ensure availability of commodities at subsidized rates during Ramzan, ICT administration has set-up 19 Fair Price Shops in city area and 16 shops in rural area of Islamabad.
ICT Administration has also established 04 Sasta Bazaars at G-7, Pakistan Town, Rawat and Tarlai, Islamabad to provide essential items of food on cheaper rates during Ramzan. Furthermore, ICT administration has also elaborated a mechanism of fixation of retail prices of different items under section 3 of Food Stuff Control Act 1958.
The Federal Government is also providing relief on sale of various items through Utility Stores Corporation (USC). The Federal Cabinet under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister of Pakistan has approved a package of Rs. 2 billion for providing subsidy on food items at Utility Stores Corporation (USC) during Ramzan. The items in the package include flour, ghee, gram, moong, mash, basin, dates, basmati, sella and broken rice, soft drink squash, tea, spices and milk packs etc. Similarly Provincial Governments are also taking measures to control the prices of food items during Ramzan through monitoring and other administrative measures.
For more information, contact:
Haji Ahmed Malik
Principal Information Officer
Press Information Department (PID)
Tel: +9251 925 2323 and +9251 925 2324
Fax: +9251 925 2325 and +9251 925 2326