Wednesday July 06, 2022

Govt plans to top up commodity reserves up to 20pc to offset high local prices

By Our Correspondent
August 17, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The government will build the strategic reserves by importing 10-20 percent of the total consumption of the staple food items and supply into the market to bridge the supply and demand gap, a minister said on Monday.

Jamshed Cheema, special assistant to Prime Minister on food security building strategic reserves of essential commodities including wheat, sugar, pulses, edible oil/ghee, tomatoes, onion, garlic and chicken is to prevent hoarding and undue profiteering.

“The underlying rationale is to stabilize the prices of items of daily use and this will check the price fluctuation effectively” Cheema said at a meeting with Shaukat Tarin, minister for Finance and Revenue.

The meeting was called to review the price trend of essential commodities. Minister for National Food Security & Research Syed Fakhar Imam, special assistant to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, and other senior officers participated in the meeting.

Tarin directed the concerned ministries to accelerate the import of wheat and sugar and ensure that sufficient stocks are available for smooth supply during the current financial year.

The minister also urged the concerned ministries and Trading Corporation of Pakistan to exercise due diligence and take appropriate measures for risk hedging while floating tenders in international market.

The government earlier this month approved additional import of 2 million tons of wheat to reduce domestic flour prices amid tight local supplies. Similarly, the government is also importing 600,000 tons of sugar for maintaining buffer stocks.

The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) previously directed provincial government departments to import four million tons of wheat for building buffer stock. The government viewed that the current upsurge in international food prices amid the coronavirus pandemic makes it imperative to build strategic reserves of essential commodities to bring stability in their prices.

Tarin urged the representatives of the provincial governments to take corrective measures for reducing the price differential between farm and retail prices. He emphasised the need to review the entire food value chain and ensure that the farmers get a commensurate share of market value of their produce.

The SAPM on food security stated that farmers must follow the international best practices and look into alternate options for perishable commodities like tomato puree, onion powder, garlic powder etc to meet peak demand due to seasonal variations. “This will offer cost-effective products for the consumers as well,” he added.