PM Imran vows to announce measures to reduce prices of basic food itmes

Premier says those responsible for flour, sugar price hike will be held accountable and penalised

News Desk February 09, 2020
Prime Minister Imran Khan. PHOTO: PTI

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government will announce measures taken to reduce prices of basic food items after a federal cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said.

Taking to Twitter, the premier announced the decision early on Sunday.

“I understand the difficulties ordinary people including salaried class are confronting and have decided, come what may, my government will be announcing various measures that will be taken to reduce prices of basic food items for the common man in Cabinet on Tuesday,” he wrote.

Imran said the relevant authorities were carrying out an “in-depth probe” of the flour and sugar crisis and asserted that those responsible for the price hikes will be “held accountable and penalised”.

Rising prices of food items worry PM Imran

The tweet comes a day after the prime minister ordered a reduction in the prices of food items as his government has not only been drawing scathing criticism from the opposition for the rising inflation, poverty and unemployment rates, but some within its own ranks have also been ringing the alarm bells.

“We came to power for the welfare of the poor. We have no right to continue staying in power if we don’t care about them,” the premier said while presiding over a meeting to review the prices of basic commodities, particularly food items.

“We will do whatever it takes to provide relief to the poor,” he added, directing his economic team to take every step possible to bring down the prices of flour, cooking oil, pulses, sugar and rice among other essential edibles.

The premier said his government would ensure the provision of basic food items to the common man. “The government will provide ration to those who cannot afford to buy [essential edibles]. They will be assisted through the Ehsaas programme,” he vowed.

The premier blamed his predecessors and hoarders for the surge in the prices of essential commodities across the country.

Inflation jumps to 14.6% in Jan 2020

Rising inflation

The PTI government has come under  widespread criticism over the alarming increase in inflation.

Pakistan saw the highest inflation reading in nine years with the start of New Year as Consumer Price Index jumped to 14.6% in January due to an increase in food and energy cost, which also made the tight monetary policy ineffective. Last time inflation had been recorded at 15.5% in December 2010.

In a single month, the headline inflation increased by 2%, which was quite alarming at a time when people’s wages were shrinking. This is for the first time in recent years that the headline inflation reading has surpassed the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) key policy rate of 13.25%.

The core inflation, calculated after excluding energy and food prices, increased in both urban as well as rural areas last month. In the urban areas, it surged to  7.9% in January compared to 7.5% in the preceding month, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. In rural areas, the core inflation hit 9% last month.

The average prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages, which have 34.6% weight in the CPI basket, surged 14.7% in January over a year ago, according to the PBS.

The alcoholic beverages and tobacco group inflation increased by 78.5% last month. Similarly, the housing, water, electricity, gas and fuels group - having one-fourth weight in CPI basket, increased 9.6% last month.

The transport fares, having 5.9% weight in CPI basket, increased on an average 18.6% in January over a year ago. Prices of tomatoes surged 157.7% and onions 125.3% in January compared to the same month of the previous year, which once again underscores that inflation cannot be controlled by keeping the interest rates high.

The PBS calculates the inflation index by monitoring prices of 356 commodities in 35 cities and 244 goods in 27 rural markets. The impact of food inflation was more pronounced in rural areas than in urban centres.

The food inflation in urban areas stood at 19.5% in January over a year ago while in rural areas the food inflation jumped to 23.8%.

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mira | 5 months ago | Reply | Recommend Same thing that Venezuelan did and we know how that turned out.
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