LAHORE - The current retail prices of ghee and cooking oil will continue and therefore the helpless consumers would not get the announced Rs15 relief in prices as the Punjab government, in a meeting with the ghee manufacturers, has admitted the stance of manufacturers of already decreasing ghee rates. However, both agreed that further reduction in prices, where applicable, will be implemented soon.

The threat of further ghee and edible oil shortage in the province has been averted, as manufacturers have withdrawn the decision of mills’ closure following the government accepted millers’ stance that they had already passed on the benefit of decline in oil prices to the consumers partially. And the companies now, instead of cutting ghee rates straightaway by Rs15 per kg, will announce the cut in prices partially, where applicable.

Showing flexibility in their stance, both the Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (PVMA) and the Punjab government have amicably resolved the issue through negotiation, as the ghee manufacturers, instead of reducing ghee and oil rate by Rs15 per kg, have accepted the government’s demand of providing their relevant record of already decreased rate.

The PVMA also agreed to print retail rate and ingredients of their product on packing, stopping the manipulation of retailers who were also involved in overcharging.

Company manufacturing ‘Dalda’ brand, which has claimed that it has already cut ghee, oil prices by Rs5 per kg, has also announced to decrease their product rate by Rs10 per kg from today (Sunday), increasing the total consumer benefit to Rs15, as wished by the Punjab government.

It is to be noted that after the Punjab Chief Minister’s announcement for de-escalation of cooking oil prices in the province, stockists had gone for hoarding, causing scarcity of ghee and cooking oil in some cities of Punjab. The hoarders in the wholesale market had cut off the supply of vegetable oil, leading to its scarcity in several areas of the province.

The government wanted the millers to cut their product rate by Rs15 per kg as per ratio of price cut in palm oil rate in international market to pass on the benefit of price reduction of commodities in global market. However, the ghee and edible oil millers were of the view that they have already dropped the rate of their eatables in line with cut in price of raw material. Some brands have reduced the rate by Rs10 and few companies cut the rate by Rs5 per kg during the last seven months from July 2014 to Feb 2015. The government negotiators, including provincial minister Bilal Yasin and Price control committee chairman Rana Sana Ullah, agreed that if the PVMA through their sale record shows that their member companies have already passed on the price cut benefit to the consumers, they need not decreasing their product sale price.

The PVMA will provide the govt officials with sale invoices of their member companies within three days to decide as to how much further reduction of ghee price is needed.

Meanwhile, according to a handout issued by the Punjab government here on late Saturday night, Chairman Implementation Committee on Reduction in Prices of Daily Use Commodities, Rana Sanaullah Khan has said that Ghee Mills Owners Association has accepted the decision of the government of decrease of Rs. 15 per kg / liter in the prices of edible oil and ghee while a written agreement has also been reached between the government and mills association. 72 hours have been given to mills owners for the implementation of the decision. These prices will be applicable throughout the country while owners will be bound to write new price on the brand packing of ghee and oil, he added.

He was addressing a press conference along with office-bearers of Ghee Mills Owners Association at 90-Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam. Provincial Minister for Food Bilal Yasin, Secretaries of Industry Daud Ahmed Breech, Chairman Association Atif Ikram Sheikh, Vice Chairman Tasadaq Rasool, Executive Members Inam Bari, Tariq Ullah Sufi, Malik Abid and members Ch. Waheed, Naveed Ahmed, Rana Mehram Ali, Syed Amir Rizvi and Asjad Arif were also present on the occasion. He said that government also accepts the demand of concession already given in the prices of oil and ghee due to reduction in the prices of palm oil from July 2014 to February 2015 by Mills Association.

He said that this concession will be included in decrease of Rs. 15. However, the association will have to provide authentic documental proof of concession earlier given in brands.

Rana Sanaullah said that after enforcement of reduction in prices of ghee and oil, Ghee Mill Owners Association will not be allowed to compromise on the weight and quality of all brands. He said PVMA will ensure that MRP on all brands of ghee/oil will be clearly written according to new prices of March 2015. He said that similarly, details of ingredients will also be written on packing of all brands according to the prevailing law. Rana Sanaullah said that deadline of enforcement of government decision regarding reduction in prices of ghee/oil is 72 hours after which strict action will be taken against the violators.  

Earlier, the PVMA Central chairman Atif Ikram, during a press conference held here at Lahore Press Club, threatened to close down mills for indefinite period as the Punjab government started strict implementation of cut in ghee price by Rs15 per kilogram.