Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin said on Wednesday that the federal government had decided to provide cash subsidies directly to 'marginalized segments' of the society on sugar, flour, edible oil and pulses in order to reduce their prices.
“After providing tax relief, we will ensure price reduction in cooking oil and ghee by Rs 40 to Rs 50 per kg,” he said while addressing a press conference flanked by Minister of State for Information Farrukh Habib and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Food Security and Research Jamshed Iqbal Cheema.
"This program (subsidy), which is to be launched next month, will benefit 12.5 million households which are about 40 to 42 pc of the population," the finance minister added.
The finance minister said despite a significant increase in international prices of palm oil by over 50 pc, the federal government was looking to decrease the prices to provide maximum relief to the masses.
"In the international market, the price of palm oil increased from $760 per MT(metric ton) to $1136 per MT while in Pakistan, the prices of cooking oil increased by 33 pc," he added.
The finance minister added that wheat is being released at the rate of Rs1950 per 40kg whereas the price of sugar had been notified at Rs89.75 per kg.
Tarin further stated that efforts were also underway to reduce the profit margins of the middlemen.
"We are trying to revive price control committees which will benefit the common man. Strategic reserves of essential commodities are also being built to ensure price stability and prevent profiteering and hoarding," he assured.
He maintained that food inflation in the country slowed down during the previous months as urban and rural food inflation in July was 15 and 17 pc respectively, which was decreased to 9.1 and 10 pc respectively.
"Prices of consumer goods have risen all over the world. Pakistan is not a unique country. Food and beverage prices have risen less in Pakistan as compared to the rest of the world," Tarin added.
The finance minister said that the 'Kamyab Pakistan Program' was being launched by the end of September to uplift the weak segments of the society and added that the program would provide easy loans for businesses and the agriculture sector.
Habib said the government has not fully passed on the impact of the increase in international prices of essential commodities to the masses.
"Effort has been made to extend relief to the people. The world has appreciated Pakistan's handling of Covid-19," Habib added.
SAPM Cheema claimed that Pakistan's oil, wheat and sugar prices were the lowest in the region.
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