ISLAMABAD - National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) has expressed serious concerns over the low stock of high speed diesel (HSD) and directed the Petroleum Division to take cognizance of the issue and ensure smooth availability of petroleum products in the country.

Oil Companies Advisory Council (OCAC) has warned the government that country might face HSD shortage in next few weeks especially during the peak harvest season due to a host of external and domestic factors. NPMC headed by Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin has directed the Petroleum Division to take cognizance of the issue and ensure smooth availability of POL in the country.

The NPMC was updated on the wheat flour prices in the country. The Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research informed on the stock position of wheat and further apprised on the future requirements and the strategy for sustainable availability of wheat in the country. The chair expressed concerns on the low daily release of wheat by the Balochistan government and directed the provincial authorities to bring stability in the prices of wheat flour by increasing daily release of wheat to the flour mills. NPMC was also apprised on the sugar prices in the country. Secretary Ministry of Industries and Production briefed the meeting on the process for building strategic reserves of sugar in the country to maintain stability in prices. On the prices of edible oil in the country, Secretary Ministry of Industries and Production informed the meeting on available stocks of edible oil and strategy to bring in stability in its prices. The chair expressed concerns on the rise in the prices of edible oil and directed Ministry of I&P to expedite the action against the edible oil manufacturers to address the issue of charging higher prices from domestic consumers relative to prices in the international market. It was further directed to increase the imports of edible oil for sustainable availability of edible oil in future.

The NPMC was also briefed on the bumper availability of potatoes in the country. The chair directed Ministry of National Food Security and Research to make strategy for increasing the exports of potatoes and further directed for production forecasting unit for major and minor crops for timely decision making. NPMC was also briefed on the prices of pulses in the country, NPMC was informed that there was stability in Moong prices and witnessed less prices as compared to its prices in the last year. The meeting also discussed fertilizer situation in the country and was informed that there is no shortage of fertilizers in the country. The meeting directed Ministry of I&P to formulate strategy to rationalize the prices of fertilizers in the light of decision to provide subsidized supply of gas to the fertilizer manufacturers and for providing adequate relief to the growers.

Economic Adviser Finance Division briefed the NPMC about weekly SPI which witnessed increase of 0.22% as compared to decline in previous week by 0.08%. 33 food items contributed increase in the SPI by 0.31%, whereas 18 non-food items contributed decrease of 0.09% to the SPI.

NPMC was informed that prices of 12 items remained stable in the last week. The prices of 11 items decreased contributing decline in SPI by 1.08%. The items which contributed in decline included electricity by 0.91%, eggs by 0.08%, red chillies by 0.03% and others by 0.06%. While prices of 28 items slightly increased that led to increase in SPI by 1.3% which included petrol by 0.65%, chicken by 0.19%, long cloth by 0.18% and others by 0.28%.

NPMC was informed that chillies powder, eggs, electricity charges, onions, potatoes, gur, sugar, wheat flour, LPG cylinder, pulse Moog, pulse Mash have shown decline in the prices during the last week. It was informed that prices of onion are lowest as compared to its prices 3 years earlier.  The meeting was also apprised on the wholesale and retail prices of daily commodities in the country and it was informed that decrease has been witnessed in the wholesale and retail prices of various items in the last week. Slight increase has been witnessed in the whole sale and retail prices of potatoes and onions which was attributed to the increase in the transportation charges. The chair further directed provincial authorities to take measures to reduce the wholesale and retail price gap in both commodities.

The NPMC was briefed on the availability of essential goods at subsidized rates at the Sastaa & Sahulat Bazaars across the country. Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin appreciated the efforts of the governments of the Punjab, KP, Balochistan and Islamabad administration in providing key items at discounted prices through arranging Sastaa Bazaars. In his concluding remarks, the finance minister underscored the efforts being made for keeping the prices of essential items in check and measures to ensure smooth supply of essential commodities throughout the country.