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April 27, 2021

PBS asked to expand coverage for inflation numbers

April 27, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on Monday directed the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to extend the market coverage by including more cities and local areas including Ramazan saasta/sahulat bazaars to determine inflation numbers.

Addressing a meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) at the Finance Division, Tarin said the inflation data must represent and reflect prevailing price trends accurately, he said.

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) briefed the finance minister about data collection methodology and updated on the recent changes incorporated to reflect price variation between wholesale and retail levels across different cities.

The minister urged the provincial administrations to chalk out a firm plan for strict monitoring of prices and availability of stock of basic commodities in Ramazan saasta bazaars to facilitate public in Eid shopping which largely takes place during the last week of Ramazan.

Tarin directed the provincial governments to keep the prices of basic commodities in check during the Eid holidays.

The minister underscored the importance of maintaining strategic reserves of essential commodities and directed the Provincial governments and departments concerned to work out estimates and procure wheat and sugar in a smooth and timely manner.

The NPMC reviewed the price trends of essential commodities especially wheat flour, sugar, edible ghee, chicken, eggs and vegetables during the last week. The Secretary Finance briefed the Committee about the decline in weekly sensitive price indicator by 0.40 percent whereas prices of 13 items recorded a decline and 26 items remained stable. Price of essential commodities including tomatoes, onions, sugar, potatoes and poultry were reduced during the week under review.

The finance minister also directed to review the entire supply chain from farmer to end-consumer for minimising difference between wholesale and retail prices for basic commodities with a view to ensure that farmer is paid well and consumer gets the maximum relief.

The minister sought briefing from the representatives of the provincial governments regarding efficacy of Ramazan saasta bazaars which have been setup to provide maximum relief to the masses during the holy month.

The provincial administrations reported that by and large, the response has been very encouraging as people were making regular purchases and taking benefit of reduced prices of basic commodities.

It was told that all basic commodities are well-stocked across the chain of Utility Stores Corporation outlets including wheat flour, sugar, ghee and pulses (at subsidized prices). Maximum buying across USC outlets takes place during the second half of the day. He requested the general public to visit Utility Stores outlets during morning hours to avoid large queues.

Tarin stressed the need to ensure availability of basic commodities at USCs throughout the country and urged people to benefit from the mobile utility stores facility amid COVID-19 pandemic.