close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
May 4, 2021

Directive by finance minister: PBS told to collect prices data through new methodology

National

May 4, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin has directed the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to ensure data collection for prevailing prices of different commodities from Ramazan Saasta/Saulahat Bazaar for wide coverage.

This directive has created an awkward situation for the PBS because it was mandated to collect the prices under defined methodology finalised through rebasing exercise and any change in methodology would distort the whole data of collection process for calculating inflation figures.

Although, the PBS officials are tight-lipped and no one was ready to say anything on the record, insiders say that the PBS was left with no other option but to refer this issue towards its high-powered technical committee and then go back to the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) with its response in line with the recommendations finalised by this technical committee on how the directives of the finance minister could be incorporated for data collection on CPI-based figures.

The sources said that there was a need to differentiate one major change that happened on the governance structure as the PBS was handed over to the Ministry of Planning, so the Ministry of Finance could not issue any directive through bypassing the Ministry of Planning. They recalled that the finance ministry had made committed tinkering with the CPI based data collection methodology in 2009-10 for showing decreased CPI based inflation from 21 percent to 14 percent without reducing the prices on the ground.

At a time when the commodities prices are witnessing an upsurge in accordance with Blomberg and World Bank index all over the world, any effort done through tinkering with data by changing methodology will not serve any real purpose.

The WB data showed that the commodities' prices in different parts of the world witnessed a surge by 30 percent. The USA witnessed surge in inflation because the COVID-19 pandemic disturbed the supply chain. With the provision of vaccine, there is an uptake in demand, so inflation is going up because of two factors, including increased demand and second low base effect in the same months of the last year.

According to an official statement issued here on Monday, Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Shaukat Tarin, chaired the meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) at the Finance Division.

Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, SAPM on Finance and Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, Secretary Finance Division, Secretary M/o NFS&R, Secretary M/o Industries and Production, Provincial Chief Secretaries, Member PBS, MD Utility Stores Corporation and other senior officers participated in the meeting.

The NPMC reviewed the price trend of essential commodities, especially flour, sugar, edible ghee, chicken and vegetables during the last week. While briefing the NPMC about the weekly SPI, 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 Pakistan Bureau of Statistics updated the committee about the data collection methodology and presented a detailed working regarding disparity between wholesale and retail prices of essential commodities. After due deliberation, the NPMC directed the PBS to further review its data collection methodology to reflect variation between wholesale and retail levels for basic commodities across different cities accurately. The finance minister also directed the PBS to ensure that data must represent and reflect the prevailing price trends, including prices prevailing in Ramazan Saastaa/Sahulat Bazars for wide coverage.

The secretary, M/o NFS&R, apprised the committee about sufficient availability of wheat stocks across the country. He also briefed about the arrangements underway to import wheat for building strategic reserves and to ensure steady supply during the current year. A summary will be presented before the next ECC for requisite approval in this regard, he added.

While taking stock of the situation, the finance minister 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 flour bags in check.

In his concluding remarks, the finance minister directed the respective 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 occasion of Eid. Keeping in view the arrival of Eid, the finance minister stressed coordinated and consolidated efforts by all concerned to check undue profiteering and price hike to facilitate masses during the last week of Ramazan.