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Pakistan plans to import more wheat to stabilise flour prices

Business

May 4, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The government has planned to import wheat to ensure its steady supply during the current year, a food ministry official said on Monday, as the agriculture-based economy is still struggling to meet domestic need of the staple food.

The secretary to the ministry of food security apprised the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) about sufficient availability of wheat stocks across the country. He also briefed about arrangements underway to import wheat for building strategic reserves and to ensure steady supply during the current year. A summary will be presented before next the Economic Coordination Committee for requisite approval in this regard, he added.

While reviewing performance of the rabi crops (2020/21) last month, the Federal Committee on Agriculture estimated wheat production at 26.04 million tons, up 1.7 percent over the last year.

Presiding over the meeting, Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin stressed coordinated and consolidated efforts by all concerned to check undue profiteering and price hike to facilitate masses during the last week of Ramazan keeping in view the arrival of Eid, a statement said.

The minister directed the provincial administrations and concerned departments for strict monitoring of prices of basic commodities and ensure availability of sufficient stocks of basic commodities to provide relief to the consumers on the special occasion of Eid.

The finance minister directed the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to ensure that the data must represent and reflect prevailing prices trends including prices prevailing in Ramazan Saastaa/Sahulat Bazars for wide coverage.

While taking stock of the situation, Tarin urged all the provincial governments to ensure daily release of wheat on subsidized rates in compliance with the directives of the Prime Minister to keep the prices of wheat flour bags in check.

Minister for Food Security and Research Fakhar Imam, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Waqar Masood and other senior officers participated in the meeting.

The NPMC reviewed the price trend of essential commodities especially wheat flour, sugar, edible ghee, chicken and vegetables during the last week. While briefing the committee about weekly sensitive price indicator, the finance secretary apprised that prices of nine basic commodities registered a decline whereas 30 items remained stable during the week under review.

In compliance with the earlier directions of the finance minister, the PBS updated the committee about data collection methodology and presented a detailed working regarding disparity between wholesale and retail prices of essential commodities.

After due deliberation, the NPMC directed PBS to further review its data collection methodology to reflect variation between wholesale and retail levels for basic commodities across different cities accurately.