ISLAMABAD:The Economic Coordination Committee has banned with immediate effect export of wheat flour, Maida, Suji and Basen through sea and rail routes to arrest the rising trend in wheat prices. It was decided in a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. Briefing media persons, Special Secretary Finance Dr. Ashfaq Hassan said the ECC took serious notice of the recent increase in the prices of wheat and flour despite record wheat crop of 23.5 million tons, which is more than the country’s requirements. Moreover, the Government has already put a ban on the export of wheat to arrest the rising prices. He said.
He said the government would also start releasing wheat from its stock during first week of the next month to only functional flour mills. For this purpose the issue price of wheat has been fixed in the range of 460 to 470 rupee per forty kilograms, he added. He said that the government is also providing the list of wheat hoarders to the provincial governments for appropriate action against non-mills as well as non-functional mills that are hoarding the wheat for speculative purposes.
He briefed the media that the federal and provincial governments would ensure fool proof system to check cross border smuggling and hoarding of wheat. He said provincial governments have also been asked to ensure that the in-built subsidy in the issue price of wheat should be passed on to the consumers by reducing the prices of wheat flour. The ECC was told that the Utility Stores Corporation has so far opened 2972 outlets and its target is to establish 3400 stores before the beginning of Ramzan. These stores would be covering about 81 million population of the country.
The meeting was informed that Ramzan Relief Package would be effective from September 10 providing substantial relief to consumers on about one thousand items. Dr. Hasan said in addition to utility stores, the government will set up daily and weekly bazaars to provide relief to the common man. Price Magistrates will be effectively checking the prices in different markets. The ECC also reviewed the overall inflationary trend and expressed satisfaction that consumer price index stood at 6.4 percent in July this year as against 7.6 percent in the corresponding month of last year.
The inflation for the month of July was the lowest in the last four years. The declining trend in the overall inflation is largely attributed to sharp reduction in non-food inflation which declined from 7.8 percent in July last year to 4.9 percent in July this year. He said that prices of essential commodities like wheat, wheat flour; all kinds of pulses,
diesel, and kerosene oil are lower in Pakistan than Indian with large margins. The meeting noted that there 4.7 million tons of wheat and 1.349 million tons of sugar
stocks in the country.
The meeting also noted that in the back drop of recent sub prime mortgage issues that caused global melt down of stock exchanges around the world, Pakistan’s economic indicators continued to perform impressively during the first month of the current financial year. The foreign exchange reserves have crossed 16 billion dollars, exchange rate remains stable, foreign direct invest is growing at 14.1 percent, export grew by 10.7 percent, trade gap improved by more than 2.5 percent, workers remittances were up by 31.1 percent and CBR collected 50.3 billion rupees which is 4.1 billion rupees more than the target fixed for last month.-SANA