ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday said that the government has been successful in keeping inflation lowest in FY 15 as compared to last 11 years by implementing appropriate monetary & fiscal policies as well other administrative measures to control the prices & supply situation in the country.

He made these remarks during the National Price Monitoring Committee meeting. The meeting reviewed the trend of inflationary indicators including the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Food, Non-Food, Core, Wholesale Price index (WPI) and Sensitive Price Index (SPI). The CPI recorded at 3.2 percent during May 2015, similarly SPI and WPI also registered at 1.2 percent and -1.8 percent respectively. The SPI for the week ended on 18th June 2015 recorded an increase 0.25 percent due to increase in prices of some commodities.

The Minister showed concern of the increasing trend of the perishable and non perishable items such as onion, tomatoes and pluses. He directed Ministry of Food Security and Research as well as Utilities Store Corporation to immediately submit their finding of the increasing trend in its prices and bring summary for ECC for redressal the issue.

The chair also observed the price comparison of open market as well as sasta bazaar observing that prices of essential kitchen items are lower in sasta bazars as compared to open market. In Islamabad in terms of prices of wheat flour there is difference of Rs.8 between open market and sasta bazaar, rice broken Rs.7.50, chicken Rs.36, eggs Rs.6, vegetable ghee (loose) Rs.6, bananas Rs.62.50, masoor pulse. Rs.14.38, moong pulse Rs.15.63, mash pulse Rs.16.25, gram pulse Rs.9.38, potatoes Rs.14.00, onions Rs.19.30, tomatoes Rs.17.88, sugar Rs.0.50, red chillies powdered Rs.27.50 garlic Rs.81.50 etc. Similarly the prices in Punjab, Sindh, KPK were also found much lower in sasta bazaar as compared to open market. The Minister appreciated the role of sasta bazaar as well as the administrative authorities for arranging these bazaars which are providing much cheaper items of daily use to the people at large throughout the country.

It was also noted in the meeting that federal government is providing subsidy for the Relief Package during the Holy month of Ramadan 2015. The essential consumer items will be provided on reduced rates through the Utility Stores all over the country. The Minister desired that there should be no shortage of supply of commodities in their outlets.

The Minister directed the Competition Commission of Pakistan to identify gaps in the existing legal/policy framework relating the price and supply of essential commodities and keep a close watch on the undertakings in the informal food sector who are manipulating supply and prices of the commodities and submit concrete recommendations in this regard once the commission conducted its full review based on substantial analysis.

The meeting also noted the measure taken by the provincial government as well as ICT during the holy month of Ramzan. In Punjab 316 Ramzan Bazaars have been established for provision of essential items at discounted rate. Agriculture Fair Price Shops have been established in each Ramzan Bazaar where following items will be available (Banana, Apple, Dates, Ladyfinger, Potato, Onion, Squash, Bitter Gourd, Basin, Gram Pulse & Rice) at whole sale rate. 1525 Price Magistrates have been deputed and 2000 Iftar Madni Dasterkhwans have been established. Ministers/ Administrative Secretaries deputed for Districts to monitor Ramzan Package and District Committees Comprising (Public representative, DCO) for Monitoring/ implementation of Ramzan package and price control of essential items in their respective districts are established to ensure smooth supply of essential items.

Government of the Punjab provided subsidy worth Rs 3.5 billion on provision of Atta. Through this intervention 14 million bags of Atta will be provided on subsidised rates. The wheat flour will be sold in Ramzan Bazars, and in open market during holy month of Ramzan at subsidised rates. Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) provided 15,000 tons of sugar Rs. 8/kg less than the open market. Sugar will be sold in Ramzan Bazars in 1 & 2 Kg packing (@ Rs. 52/kg) with Punjab Governments monogram. Ghee will provided at a discount of. Rs. 10/kg/litre less than the open market rate in Ramzan Bazars. Pakistan Poultry Association (PPA) will arrange poultry products in Ramzan Bazaars with discount of Rs.15/kg on chicken meat and discount of Rs 5/dozen on eggs. All Ramzan Bazaars will be monitored through Control Room at S&GAD by Video Linking and complaints Toll Free No.0800-02345 is for redressal of price issues.

Government of Sindh has also taken number of measures to ensure smooth supply of essential daily items. Series of meeting are held under the Chairmanship of Commissioner, Karachi Division with Manufacture, Wholesaler of essential commodities, bakers / meat merchant and consumer associations, officials from various concern departments and they are invited on the fixation of prices. Manufactures of edible oil and ghee have agreed to provide discount rate in Bachat Bazars. Weekly Bazars will ensure the availability all essential commodities at discounted rates. All field staff of Bureau of Supply & Prices (BSP) along with District Administration will ensure the display of price lists at prominent place of every shop. The District Administration will make surprise visit of market with staff of Bureau and member of consumer association for checking / implementation of the price lists. Control rooms also established at Commissioner’s office and at the office of the Director, Bureau of Supply & Prices.

The meeting was apprised that Food Directorate KPK Peshawar has directed all Deputy Commissioners to meet on weekly basis in Ramadan not only to oversee the availability of essential commodities but also ensure stability of prices. Prices of essential commodities be strictly enforced and monitored jointly by district Administration and Food Department. Display of Price lists of essential commodities be ensured in the shops/markets so as to curb overcharging and profiteering by vendors, shopkeepers and whole sale dealers. Special Teams, comprising representative of Local Administration, Price Magistrates Police, Industry/labor, Health & Food Department constituted who shall carryout frequent/surprise checks and take stern legal action against hoarders/profiteers and adulterators under Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Food Stuff Control Order 1975.

Representative of Balochistan said the provincial government has also constituted District Price Control/ Monitoring Committees to review and notify prices of essential commodities and maintain demand and supply in consultation with all stakeholders and also appointed Price Control Magistrates for their respective districts to fix the prices of daily use items in consultation with all stakeholders and directed the retailers to hang the daily price lists in their shops/stores. A price monitoring team has also been constituted to monitor prices fixed by the Deputy Commissioners and compare with the prevailing rates being charged by the retailers and report the same to the Director General Industries and Deputy Commissioner concerned. The committee has been ensuring the availability of the daily use items in Utility Stores, Flour Mills and other godowns. All Deputy Commissioners, the President Balochistan Industrialists Association, Quetta, and individual flour mills owners in Quetta are ensuring the availability of abundant fine quality flour, milk and yogurt for the consumers. A Control Room in the Directorate General Industries & Commerce, Balochistan has been established to address the grievance of consumers. This complaint centre will remain open from 8.00 A.M. to 5.00 P.M daily. The telephone Nos. of Complaint Cell are 081-921181.

The meeting was informed that ICT administration has also taken number of initiative to extend the relief to the general public during Ramzan. The meeting of District Price Control Committee fix the prices of essential food items like pulse, milk, meat etc and examine the demand situation and corrective steps are being taken in this regard. The rates of fruit/ vegetables, chickens, eggs are fixed on daily basis where as the rates of pulses, meat, yogurt, baisan, pikoras, samoas, roti, and jelebi have been notified by District Magistrate for implementation during Ramzan-ul-Mubarik. Sasta Bazars have been established at Barakau, Koral and Rawat. The fruits and vegetables are sold at the bazaar approximately at whole sale prices. 35 Fairs Price Shops have been establishment in the Urban and Rural areas of Islamabad with the active cooperation of manufacturers and whole sellers where the essential commodities like Atta, Ghee, Baisan and Dall Channa are available at either Ex-Mills rates or lower than markets rates. The Federal Government has announced a package of Rs. 1.5 billion for subsidy on food items at utility stores. The 20 kg atta at utility stores will be available at Rs. 635 at 43 Utility Stores of ICT. Moreover 10-20 % discount will be given on other food items at the stores. 23 Price Magistrates have been deputed to conduct price checking in their receptive areas and submit daily reports. The teams are allocated areas pertaining to ICT Police Stations. The checking team conducted raids. The complaint cell has been established at the Office of Deputy Commissioner, ICT, Islamabad. The help line number is 9108094. The complaints will be forwarded to respective areas Magistrate for speedy redressal.