Monday September 25, 2023

CCoP launches investigation into possible chicken feed cartel

By Our Correspondent
May 25, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The anti-monopoly body has launched an investigation into alleged cartel practices impacting chicken feed prices, resulting in high poultry rates in the country, a government statement said.

"Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has sought details from the chairperson, Competition Commission of Pakistan regarding inquiry underway with reference to some anti-competitive conduct that led to price hike in chicken feed, which in turn, increased prices of chicken," the statement issued after National Price Monitoring Committee's (NPMC) meeting said.

"The chairperson apprised that the process will be completed soon and recommendations would be shared with the provincial governments and departments concerned for appropriate counter-action."

The finance minister directed to accelerate the whole process. "The speed is of essence in drawing findings and taking stern measures to check cartelization, hoarding and undue profiteering effectively," the statement quoted Tarin as saying.

This week, the price of chicken live bird was further increased by Rs20/kg, fixed at Rs306 per kg, but sold at Rs350 to Rs360/kg. Chicken meat price was raised by Rs29/kg, fixed at Rs444/kg, but sold Rs460 to Rs500/kg. The statement said the meeting also reviewed the current price trend of chicken and the representatives of the provincial governments reported that the "surge in prices of chicken are driven by the gap in supply and demand".

"The poultry farmers have suffered losses over the last few months due to COVID-19 related supply disruption and poultry disease which in turn, fueled poultry prices." The meeting also reviewed the price trend of essential commodities especially wheat flour, sugar edible oil/ghee, pulses and chicken during the last week. Minister for food security said efforts are underway to import 400,000 tons of wheat during the current year to ensure smooth supply of wheat across the country.

He also apprised about multiple options under consideration for building strategic reserves of wheat throughout the country. "The underlying rationale is to ensure steady supply of wheat at affordable prices across the board," he added.

While taking stock of the situation, the finance minister directed provincial administrations to ensure daily release of wheat at subsidized rates without fail. Ministry of Industries and Production apprised about the current uptick in international prices of soya and palm oils.

"Owing to significant volatility in international prices of edible oil, the finance minister constituted a sub-committee comprising of the minister for food security and minister for industries to workout a lasting arrangement by exploring alternate options to reduce dependence on import of oil and other basic food items."

The finance minister affirmed full support for allocation offunds in the upcoming budget for upgrading existing research institutions as well as establishing state-of-the art research facilities to suggest alternate high yielding crops to meet increased demand and to curb malnutrition.

Tarin also directed PBS to workout a mechanism and compile gap analysis (differential between wholesale and retail prices) along with weekly SPI for key basic commodities to gauge price variation effectively. "This will enable the provincial governments and all concerned departments to take appropriate administrative measures."