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 Finance minister announces measures to control food inflation

Daily Times (23/09/2021) - Announcing a reduction in the prices of various essential food items, Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin said on Wednesday that despite the highest increase of inflation in a decade worldwide, inflation has declined in the country, owing to balanced policies of the government.

“The Consumer Price Index (CPI) based inflation has come down from 9.3 percent to 8.4 percent during the last two years,’ he said while addressing a press conference here adding that the food inflation has also declined during the last year.

The minister was flanked by Minister of state for Information Farrukh Habib and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Food Security and Research Jamshed Iqbal Cheema.

He said food inflation went down during previous couple of months as the urban and rural food inflation in July was 15pc and 17pc which had decreased to 9.1pc and 10pc respectively.

He said that the Covid-19 had badly affected the production of commodities and supply chain that has resulted in inflation across the world, however added that the government had balanced and resultantly it did not climb to that extent as was witnessed in the world. He said that overall prices of essential food commodities increased in the world as the prices of sugar went up from $240 per ton in 2018 to $430 per ton, showing a growth of 80pc. Likewise, prices of palm oil went up from $760 per metric ton to $1136, showing a growth of 58pc while in Pakistan the prices of cooking oil increased by 33pc only.

He said that the prices did not increase in Pakistan to the extent witnessed in the rest of the world, adding that the prices of various commodities were still low compared to other countries. He said that despite a hike in petrol, diesel and other petroleum products, the prices were still low compared to regional countries. He said that the government passed on Petroleum Development Levy to provide relief to the masses. He said that the government had decided to reduce prices of edible oil, sugar and wheat to facilitate people.

He said the government had decided to provide tax relief in edible oil to bring the prices of cooking oil and ghee by Rs40 to Rs50 per kg. “After providing tax relief we will ensure the price reduction in cooking oil and ghee by Rs40 to Rs50 per kg,” he said.

Likewise, the sugar would be available at Rs89.75 per kg whereas per kilogram flour would be available at Rs55.

He said that the government would also provide cash subsidies to the poorest of the poor to buy essential food items including sugar, flour, pulses and ghee.

In addition, he added, the government would make a scientific engineering process to analyze profits in the supply chain and squeeze the role of middlemen administratively. The government was also building strategic reserves of pulses and onions to help streamline prices. In the medium and long term, the government would build commodity warehouses, cold-storages so that farmers and purchasers are linked directly without involving middlemen.

He said that CCP has also been directed to take measures against the cartelisation of Ghee manufacturers. He said that the government was working on initiatives to enhance the income and affordability of people adding that for bringing up the lower segments of people, the Kamyab Pakistan programme would be launched by the end of this month. To a question, he said that Pakistan was still in the IMF programme and during the upcoming meeting with the fund, Pakistan would negotiate in accordance with its existing stance.

He said that country’s revenues are increasing whereas there had also been improvements in the power sector which would be helpful in negotiating with IMF.

Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Food Security and Research Jamshed Iqbal Cheema said that the average prices of petrol in the world were Rs201 and diesel Rs280 across the world and these products are sold at Rs124 and Rs121 per litre in Pakistan.

Elaborating local sales of petrol in different regimes in Pakistan, he said that it was sold at 88cent during 5 years of Pakistan People’s Party, at 79 cents during Pakistan Muslim league’s 5 years and was sold at an average of 67 cents during the past three years of the current government.

Read more at https://dailytimes.com.pk/820117/finance-minister-announces-measures-to-control-food-inflation/

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