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Finance minister for rectifying supply chain for price stability

Business

May 4, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin on Monday underscored need of removing bottlenecks in food supply chain while seeking innovative ideas to ensure price stability.

“Agriculture plays a central role in our economy and the government is focused on transforming this sector,” Tarin said. “There is a need to re-visit the farm-to-end-consumer chain by removing bottlenecks in farm labour, processing, transport and logistics.”

In a meeting, the finance minister directed the members of sub-committee of Economic Advisory Council (EAC) on agriculture to work out and present holistic proposals during the next meeting. He encouraged the members to come up with innovative ideas to ensure price stability in key commodities of daily use.

The sub-committee on agriculture reviewed the entire food supply chain from farmer to end-consumer for minimising the price differential between wholesale and retail prices of basic commodities. The key focus is to work out a regulatory mechanism to ensure that the farmer gets a fair share and undue profiteering is curtailed effectively.

Prices of food with nearly 35 percent weight in CPI basket increased 15.9 percent year-on-year in April. Mainly, the food inflation was driven by non-perishable food prices that rose 18.36 percent. Prices of housing, water, electricity and fuels increased to 9.68 percent year-on-year in April compared to 0.51 percent in March.

Tarin said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation particularly challenging due to disruptions on supply side.

The finance ministry said inflationary pressures are rising worldwide as a surge in demand is accompanied by widespread supply constraints in the provision of goods and services. A steep rise in consumer price inflation across the world in coming months is expected, most notably in the US, where prices charged for consumer goods rose sharply

The EAC was recently reconstituted to recommend macroeconomic stabilisation measures and carry forward the reform agenda for economic growth. The minister for finance and revenue is the EAC’s vice chairman and consists of private sector members as well as official members.

The EAC will have an advisory and capacity enhancement relationship with the government of Pakistan. It will engage with economic institutions collaboratively and synergetically. The EAC will follow the consultative process and suggest policy initiatives that will further strengthen and optimise financial and economic policies in order to enhance their welfare impact for the citizens. The ultimate goal of the EAC is to promote analytically sound and evidence -based reforms and initiatives after taking all stakeholders on board.

Meanwhile, finance minister commended the facilitation model adopted by Board of Investment (BOI) and assured full support and facilitation for creating conducive business environment to transform Pakistan into one of the top investment destinations as envisaged by the Prime Minister.

BOI Chairman Atif Bokhari briefed the finance minister on working of BOI as a lead agency which is responsible for investment promotion, investment protection and investment facilitation in the country.

The role of BOI has become more important than ever to attract and retain investment amid COVID-19 and in post-COVID scenario, Bokhari said.

The major initiative of BOI is improvement in ease of doing business in which Pakistan advanced 28 places to attain 108th position during 2020. BOI spearheaded the reform process.

BOI introduced a series of reforms to streamline areas such as starting a business, getting construction permits, registering property, getting electricity, paying taxes and trading across the borders. Pakistan registered significant improvement in 06 key indicators which eventually led to improvement in overall ranking.

Bokhari also updated the finance minister about significant progress made in special economic zones (SEZs) on the occasion. The BOI is leading the development of SEZs by collaborating with all the government organisations at the federal and provincial levels, for the provision of infrastructure and utilities to operationalize these zones. this will help in stimulating economic activity in under-developed areas and create massive employment opportunities for the youth.