ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that government will come down hard on all those found involved in hoarding and creating artificial shortage of essential food items in the country. The Prime Minister said this while chairing a meeting of the committee on hoarding and inflation of sugar prices and other essential food items at the PM House on Tuesday. The Prime Minister directed the committee to take immediate necessary measures to keep the prices of the essential food items at an affordable level, particularly during the month of Ramazan, while monitoring the prices of these items on weekly basis. The Prime Minister directed the Minister for Industries and Production to hold an immediate meeting with the provincial governments and Pakistan Sugar Mills Association to ensure ample availability of sugar during the current season, particularly in Ramazan. The meeting decided that third party inspection team would conduct random checks at the utility stores throughout the country for keeping check on the prices, availability as well as quality. To ensure transparency and stop pilferage, NLC shall be hired for the transportation of these items. The meeting further decided that federal and provincial governments would evolve a joint mechanism for stabilising prices of the commodities while keeping a check on hoarding. The meeting took stock of the current price situation of essential commodities, particularly sugar, flour (atta) and oil/ghee, etc and reviewed the recently announced Ramazan Package. During the meeting various decisions were made to provide immediate relief to the common man who was being severely affected due to hoarding and rise in the prices of essential food items. The meeting decided that the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) in Ramazan would be provided 100,000 tonnes of sugar through TCP stocks, as against the usual supply of 40,000 tonnes per month. Thus 60,000 tonnes additional sugar would be made available to the people through the USC at Rs 38 per kilogram during Ramazan. The meeting also decided to enhance the provision of flour to 150,000 from 100,000 tonnes to the USC as part of Ramazan Package enabling its outlets to sell the product at Rs 2 per kilogram less than the market price. The meeting further decided that as part of the Ramazan Package, ghee and oil should be sold at Rs 91 per kilogram, which is Rs 20 per kilogram less than the market rate. To keep their price stable it was decided to increase the supply of ghee/oil to USC from 30,000 to 50,000 tonnes. The meeting decided that regulatory duty of 35 per cent would be suspended on the import of potato to facilitate its availability during Ramazan. The meeting was further informed that price of sugar in Pakistan was less as compared to that in the neighbouring countries, therefore, concerted efforts were needed to control and check smuggling. The meeting was briefed that in India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Iran, the price of one kilogram sugar was Rs 50, 57, 52, and 56 respectively. The meeting decided to import 300,000 tonnes of raw sugar in the coming months. The meeting was further informed that federal and provincial governments were taking necessary measures to control hoarding and high inflation of essential food items. It was informed that federal government and all provincial governments had arranged to hold the Sunday, Friday and Ramazan Bazaars to supply essential items at affordable prices while USC would also set up its mobile outlets at these bazaars to supply sugar, atta, ghee/ oil, etc. All provincial governments have appointed special price magistrates to keep a strict check on prices. The meeting was attended by federal ministers and secretaries of finance, food & agriculture and industries & production, besides federal secretary for commerce.