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February 15, 2020

Bringing inflation down: Asad Umar directs ministries to take steps

National

February 15, 2020

ISLAMABAD: On the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan for bringing down the price hike within two months at all costs, Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar on Friday directed all ministries concerned to take all-out steps for bringing the inflation down.

Now Asad Umar is expected to give a detailed presentation to Prime Minister Imran Khan on coming Monday for recommending measures to reduce the price hike. “The meeting decided to propose a reduction in GST on Ghee/cooking oil,” a top official of the Ministry of Food Security told The News on Friday. He said that the minister also suggested to ban the export of any food item that possessed possibility of price hike in the domestic market. He proposed to slap ban on export of onion, if it is necessary. The minister directed the Utility Stores Corporation to purchase food commodities at wholesale prices and provide maximum benefits to consumers.

Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said that price-hike would start to decline this month (February 2020) and inflation was expected to drop significantly. He made these observations while chairing a review meeting for controlling food inflation here on Friday.

It is relevant to mention here that the CPI based inflation had witnessed 14.6 percent height in January 2020, the highest-ever in the last one decade on monthly basis. Now it is expected that the inflation will come down and will be standing at slightly over 13 percent for February 2020. The official circles believe that the economy had witnessed its lowest ebb and now the phase of rebound would kick-start as the Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) had turned into massive positive after witnessing an impressive growth in production of sugar. Now the CPI based inflation would also come down. According to official statement issued here on Friday, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar chaired a review meeting on controlling food inflation here in Islamabad on Friday. Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research Makhdoom Khusru Bakhtyar, Mian Aslam Iqbal Minister for Industries and Trade Punjab, Managing Director Utility Stores Umar Lodhi, Secretary Food Muhammad Hashim Popalzai and senior officials participated in the meeting.

A number of measures for overcoming the crisis of skyrocketing prices of food items were considered in the meeting. The meeting was told that the government was taking every possible step to reduce food inflation/prices. Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar has directed to strengthen the monitoring system of 18 essential commodities including wheat, sugar, flour, edible ghee/oil, potatoes, onions and pulses in all the provinces of the country. He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan's top priority was to provide essential commodities to the people at very reasonable prices. According to the directive of Prime Minister Imran Khan, in the next cabinet meeting, the prime minister will be given further recommendations to reduce the prices of commodities.

Asad Umar instructed officials to maintain regular supply of wheat from public-sector stocks. The federal minister directed Umar Lodhi, Managing Director of Utility Stores, to check the prices of pulses. He also instructed the Ministry of Food for developing strategies to increase local production of food products.

Asad Umar instructed to keep a close watch on the onion and potato trade situation. He said that the price-hike will start to decline this month (February 2020) and inflation is expected to drop significantly.