ISLAMABAD: As opposition parties prepare to launch their campaign against the government From the platform of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) with raising prices as one of its key agenda items, Prime Minister Imran Khan promised on Saturday to use all available resources of the state to reduce food prices in the country.
Admitting that there is a price increase in the country, the prime minister through his official social media account on Twitter told the nation that the government was already trying to find the causes of the price increase.
“Starting next week, we will have our strategy in place and action will start using all state organizations and resources to reduce food prices,” the prime minister tweeted amid criticism from the main opposition parties against the government economic policies.
“Starting Monday of next week, our government will use every resource at the state’s disposal to lower food prices. We are already examining the causes of the price increase; whether there is a genuine shortage of supply or just mafia hoarding, smuggling, if any, or price gouging due to international prices, like palm oil, lentils, etc. Khan added.
Import of wheat and sugar will be released at controlled rates, says minister
Industries and Production Minister Hammad Azhar, through a separate tweet while calling rising food inflation in South Asia “temporary,” stated that the government would take all necessary measures to lower food prices. the basic products.
“(The) Government will take all necessary measures to reduce the prices of basic products. Imported wheat and sugar will be released at rates controlled by provinces. All options for other commodities are being examined,” the minister explained.
The prime minister’s announcement came three days after several ministers reviewed the economic situation during the weekly federal cabinet meeting. expressed resentment on the prevailing price increase and called for immediate measures to reduce inflation to prevent the opposition from “exploiting the issue” during its anti-government campaign.
Some ministers reportedly criticized unelected members of the prime minister’s economic team and complained that elected representatives had to face the public.
Later, Federal Information Minister Shibli Faraz admitted during the press conference that the cabinet and the prime minister had expressed concern about the prevailing inflation in the country.
“The prime minister has issued directives to make a strategy to lower prices and bring relief to the masses,” he said.
‘Sindh government is behind price gouging’
Stating that wheat and sugar stocks were available as per the country’s requirements, the minister alleged that wheat prices were higher only in Sindh because the Pakistan People’s Party-led provincial government was not releasing stocks.
Speaking of soaring wheat prices in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, ruled by Pakistan’s Tehreek-i-Insaf, Mr. Faraz blamed monsoon rains and floods. He said crops in the province had been damaged in recent months. Furthermore, it revealed that the country would also not be able to reach the cotton harvest target this year due to the damage caused by the floods.
However, at the same cabinet meeting, the ministers approved the decisions of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) to increase the gas tariff for specific commercial consumers and to pass fuel adjustment charges to final electricity consumers. According to the ECC’s decision, the increase in the gas rate will be applicable to the industries, CNG and energy sectors, excluding domestic consumers and tandoors.
The ECC also decided to streamline the tariff for power sector fuel adjustment charges and quarterly adjustments from November 2019 to June 2020. With this decision, there would have been an increase in the power tariff to Rs1.62 per unit, but like the ECC too If about Rs1.30 per unit of subsidy is added to the price for consumers, the net increase to be passed on to consumers using up to 200 units per month would be Re0.32 (32 paise).
In their press conferences, the leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and other opposition members, while criticizing the government’s economic policies, have been presenting a comparison of electricity and gas tariffs and food prices during his regimen.
According to official data available on the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) website, the sensitive price index (SPI) for the week ending October 8 recorded a 1.24 percent increase over the previous week “mainly due to an increase of 1pc or more in food prices”.
PBS data shows that prices have been rising in the country for more than a year, largely due to disruptions in food supply chains and periodic increases in administered prices for electricity and gas, rather than an increase in the demand for goods and services. It says that during the week, out of 51 items, the prices of 24 items (47.06 pc) increased and 23 items remained constant (45.10 pc), and the prices of only four items decreased. The interannual trend shows an increase of 11.28%, with an increase in the prices of the bag of wheat flour (by 18.32%), sugar (32.08%), bread (19.41% ), tomatoes (117%), chili powder (86.31%), potatoes (64.75 pcs.), Moong beans (41.13 pcs.), eggs (40.82 pcs.), legumes (34.66 units), Masoor legumes (25.72 units) and vegetable shortening (17.43 units).
Easy loan for entrepreneurs
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has formed a high-level steering committee under the deputy governor of the State Bank of Pakistan to ensure smooth and uninterrupted provision of loans for young entrepreneurs.
Chairing a meeting with the heads of various banks across the country to discuss the provision of easy loans under the Kamyab Jawan Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme, the prime minister sought regular updates on their progress.
The meeting was told that 21 banks were taking part in the scheme, which had secured disbursement of Rs 15 billion worth of loans this year.
Posted in Alba, October 11, 2020