A meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) was held with Finance Secretary in the chair today (Thursday) to discuss the prices of essential food and stock of supply of the essential items.

The meeting held at the Finance Division was attended by the representatives from the Provincial governments, Islamabad Capital Territory, Ministries of Industries, Interior, Law & Justice & Human Rights, Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, National Food Security and Research, Federal Board of Revenue, Competition Commission of Pakistan , Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and Utility Stores Corporation.

The meeting discussed the trend of Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is a headline measure of inflation. It has been observed that prices of food items such as pulses, fresh vegetables and wheat which have been the main top drivers of inflation saw a downward trend on the monthly basis. The meeting was informed that CPI inflation decreased by 1.0% on MoM in February 2020 over January 2020. However on YoY, recorded at 12.4% in February 2020 over February 2019 and July-February CPI inflation on YoY reached to 11.7% (6.0% last year). It was stated by the Secretary Finance that the government is committed to reducing inflation and more steps are underway in coming months.

It was noticed that Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) which monitors the price movement of 51 essential items on weekly basis recorded a decrease of 1.16% for the week ended on 27th February, 2020. During the week, 13 items recorded decline in their prices while 25 items remain stable. This was the third consecutive decline in SPI during the month of February 2020.

The Committee also discussed the price movements of these items among the provinces/ICT and observed variations in price level. The provincial governments also informed that they are proactively monitoring the prices as well as supply of essential food items. Price trend in international market are on declining trend which would augur well for the domestic prices in near future.

The meeting also discussed the outbreak of novel coronavirus and its impact on demand and supply of essential items. The Chair advised that all relevant authorities along with provincial governments should in close coordination monitor the provision of essential food items at affordable prices keeping in view the forthcoming Ramadan. He further stressed to check the undue profit margin exists between the wholesale and the retail level, which should be prevented.

The Chairperson Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) informed that they are holding a meeting in second week of this month with all stakeholders to discuss Food Laws and developing a uniform formula for pricing to remove price disparity among districts.

The Chair emphasized that the provincial government should play a proactive role in checking hoarding and undue profiteering to ensure smooth supply of essential food items at reasonable prices.