The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) has called on concerned authorities as well as provincial governments to coordinate their efforts to monitor the provision of essential food items at affordable prices.
The committee also asked the Competition Commission of Pakistan to check anti-competitive practices and take prudent administrative measures to check them. It stressed the need for chalking out a comprehensive plan in collaboration with provinces to prevent the risk of major and minor crops due to locust attack.
The observations were made during a meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) held at Finance Division today under the chairmanship of the Finance Secretary to discuss the price trends of essential food items. The meeting was attended by the representatives from the provincial governments, Islamabad Capital Territory, Ministries of Industries, Interior, Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, National Food Security & Research, Federal Board of Revenue, Competition Commission of Pakistan and Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
The meeting was informed that CPI inflation decreased by 0.8% on MoM in April 2020 over March 2020. However, on YoY, it was recorded at 8.5 % in April 2020 over April 2019 and July-April CPI inflation on YoY reached 11.2% (6.5% last year).
The price trend in international market is on a declining trend which will augur well for the domestic prices in the near future. The government is proactively taking measures to control the general price level of daily use items during the month of Ramadan.
It has been noticed that Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) which monitors the price movement of 51 essential items on a weekly basis recorded an increase of 0.01% for the week ended on 14th May 2020. During the week, 11 items recorded a decline in their prices while 26 items remain stable. This is the fifth consecutive increase in SPI during the month of April and May 2020.
Provincial governments informed that they are regularly monitoring the prices and taking strict action against hoarding and undue profiteering. Sindh Government said that during the month of Ramadan 49,833 units were checked out of which 8902 shopkeepers were fined for an amount of Rs. 15.717 million.
Punjab Government informed that 460,337 inspections have been carried out and 51,924 shopkeepers were found involved in overcharging and fine of Rs. 103,746,779 were imposed. The Committee also discussed the price movements of essential items among the provinces/ICT and observed variations in the price level.
The meeting discussed the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and its impact on demand and supply of essential items. The pandemic has compelled governments to close/restrict the borders, however, it was informed that there is no impact of such a closure on domestic prices of essential food items as their trade on these borders are negligible.
The Chairman advised that all relevant authorities along with provincial governments should in close coordination monitor the provision of essential food items at affordable prices.
Competition Commission of Pakistan should also check anti-competitive practices and take prudent administrative measures to check anti-competitive practices. The Committee stressed the need to chalk out a comprehensive plan in collaboration with provinces to prevent the risk of major and minor crops due to locust attack.