Monday, 17 November 2014

Riding rising price trend: Body takes the pulse of pulses

The National Price Monitoring Committee on Monday expressed its concern on varying prices of essential commodities in the country especially in Sindh, Balochistan as well as federal capital. Ishaq Dar, the Chairman of the committee, instructed Ministry of Food Security & Research to examine the rising price trend of pulses and take necessary corrective measures by taking all stakeholders on board.

He also underscored the need for focusing on an inter-cropping pattern with a view to enhancing the productivity of pulses and maintaining the prices. Ministry of Industries was directed to look into the matter on an increase in prices of imported milk and take corrective measures immediately in view a decline in the dairy product prices globally.

The committee reviewed the price trend of 28 selected items among the provinces. Some variations in the prices of wheat, wheat flour, rice basmati broken, Irri-6, pulses, beef, mutton, milk fresh, ghee, tomato and garlic were observed among the provinces. It was noted that most of the prices in Baluchistan and Sindh are higher as compared to other provinces. The meeting also noted that prices of most of the items in Islamabad are also higher as compared to other regions of the country. The chair underscored the need for addressing the price disparities among the provinces and also instructed Capital Administration Islamabad (ICT) to control undue price hike.

A representative of the Punjab government claimed that the prices of transport and freight charges have been curtailed immediately by 6% and 10%, respectively, and control rooms have been established to monitor the prices. Special branch and other agencies are providing daily reports to the provincial government. The Punjab government also claimed that it has imposed a Rs 684,000 fine, lodged 43 FIRs and arrested 58 people in the first 10 days of the current month.

Similarly, representatives of Baluchistan governments also claimed that to pass on the impact of decrease in petroleum prices, transporters have curtailed their fares by 7 percent. They also claimed that consumer courts have also been made functional to address the grievances of common man while representatives of Sindh government stated that with the decline in petrol prices the transport charges have been cut by 10 percent and the government is properly enforcing the decision in the province. A representative of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government also claimed that transport and freight charges have been curtailed by 10% and Chief Minister himself is monitoring the situation with the co-ordination of District Co-ordination Officers (DCOs). The meeting was informed that in federal capital fares have been reduced by 5% and 22 Magistrates have been deputed to check prices, whereas a Rs 2.4 million fine has been imposed. The Competition Commission of Pakistan said that they are working on various dimensions to control hoarding and profiteering. In this connection, they have issued 454 show cause notices and imposed Rs 26.3 billion penalties but recovered only Rs 23.45 million. They are conducting a study on food and focusing on milk, tea, meat, rice and wheat and tracking tomato, potato and LPG. They have submitted required changes needed in the Competition Act 2010 which need early implementation.

The meeting also emphasised for expediting the process of Executive Magistracy System. The Ministry of IPC informed that the proposal has been approved by the Council of Common Interest (CCI); and all provinces agreed to proceed on the matter on a fast track basis.

The meeting was attended by the representatives from the Provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Islamabad Capital Territory along with Ministries of Industries, Law and Justice, Commerce, Food Security and Research, Interior, Inter Provincial Co-ordination, Cabinet, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Federal Board of Revenue, Utility Stores Corporation and Competition Commission of Pakistan. The Finance Minister underlined the government''s resolve to control the prices of daily use items with the support of provincial governments and other stakeholders with a view to thwarting the plans of cartels, profiteers and hoarders.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014

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