Finance Minister Hammad Azhar has stated that controlling inflation is the top most priority of the government.

Chairing a meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) on Monday, Azhar emphasised the need for coordinated and consolidated efforts by all concerned to provide essential items to the general public at fair prices.

NPMC reviewed the price trend of essential commodities, especially wheat flour, sugar, vegetable ghee, chicken and eggs in the last week.

The finance secretary briefed the committee about the weekly Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI), which decreased 0.43%, as prices of 12 basic commodities fell and rates of 24 items remained stable during the week.

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research secretary briefed the committee about the sufficient stock of wheat across the country. The overall release position by the respective provinces was also reviewed during the meeting.

Taking stock of the situation, the finance minister directed representatives of provincial governments to take appropriate measures to keep prices of wheat flour bags in check. NPMC urged the provinces to take all possible measures to ensure a smooth supply of wheat at fair prices across the board.

All the four provinces briefed the finance minister about their wheat procurement plans. The finance minister reviewed the procurement plans and issued strict directives to ensure that wheat was procured in a smooth and timely manner in coordination with all the federal and provincial organisations.

He expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made and initiatives taken by the provincial governments in this regard.

The Punjab government updated the committee about the setting up of Ramazan/ Sahulat Bazaars for providing essential commodities at subsidised rates during the holy month.

The committee directed representatives of provincial governments to ensure provision of basic commodities at discounted prices through the Ramazan/ Sahulat Bazaars in order to provide maximum relief to the consumers in compliance with directives of the prime minister.

The Utility Stores Corporation (USC) MD briefed the committee about the measures being taken to ensure the availability of basic necessities at subsidised prices under the Ramazan Relief Package through the chain of outlets across the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2021.

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