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Friday, June 9, 2023

Food price hike in country lower than international market: govt

The Cabinet Division of the government released a statement on Sunday saying that the government is absorbing much of the food inflation internationally to protect Pakistani consumers. The statement said that except for wheat, the state has prevented the prices of basic food in the international market from impacting local consumers.

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A statement released by the Finance Division on Sunday claimed that the government has absorbed the majority of the price increase in the international market, preventing the domestic market from being hugely impacted by the prices of the essential items.

While they claimed this, the statement also acknowledged that domestic prices have increased, but the government has checked the increase at large, Dawn reported.

According to the national media outlet, the Finance Division says that if the price increases in the local and international market are compared, it can be seen that the government has shielded consumers in Pakistan from the pass down of the impact of international price hike.

The statement said that this price hike has been absorbed for every food item except for wheat flour. The average national price rise for wheat was 32 per cent, which is also significantly lower than the 51 per cent increase witnessed in the international market.

The Finance Division further said that the successful economic policies by the government in the fiscal year 2020-21 have even led to an increase in the real incomes, income minus the inflation impact, of Pakistanis as a whole. According to the statement, the average per capita income of Pakistanis has increased 15 per cent year-on-year, in 2021 compared to 2020.

32 per cent growth was observed in the agriculture sector, which makes up the largest chunk of Pakistan’s workforce and population engagement, however, only in the sub-sector of important crops. This makes up for the money earned by the poor people as the largest shareholding is in the hands of low-income farmers.

Similarly, it says that large-scale manufacturing, where a sizeable labor force and middle-class is employed, has witnessed the largest increase of 14.5pc in over a decade. In this sector, 17 per cent of additional income has been accumulated in just one fiscal year.

As most sub-sectors in the service industry are showing growth, unemployment has come down in agriculture, industry, housing, and construction, Dawn reported.

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The statement also said that the government is taking steps to bring down the prices in the economy, and making policy decisions to promote investment, employment and economic growth in the country.

It must be mentioned that in a recent meeting Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin urged the representatives of the Provincial governments to take corrective measures for reducing price differential between farm and retail prices. He emphasized the need to review the entire food value chain and ensure that the farmers get a commensurate share of the market value of their produce.

The SAPM on Food Security Jamshed Cheema stated that farmers must follow the international best practices and look into alternate options for perishable commodities like Tomato puree, Onion powder, Garlic powder, etc to meet peak demand due to seasonal variations. This will offer cost-effective products for the consumers as well.