Bringing inflation down: Asad Umar directs ministries to take steps

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Pakistani Finance Minister Asad Umar speaks to the media during a press conference after stepping down from his ministry, in Islamabad on April 18, 2019. - Pakistan's finance minister Asad Umar has stepped down, he announced on April 18, with no replacement yet named as Islamabad seeks a crucial bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI / AFP)

On the directives of PM Imran Khan for bringing down the price hike within two months at all costs, Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar on Friday directed all ministries concerned to take all-out steps for bringing the inflation down.

Now Asad Umar is expected to give a detailed presentation to Imran Khan on coming Monday for recommending measures to reduce the price hike. “The meeting decided to propose a reduction in GST on Ghee/cooking oil,” a top official of the Ministry of Food Security told The News on Friday. He said that the minister also suggested to ban the export of any food item that possessed possibility of price hike in the domestic market. He proposed to slap ban on export of onion, if it is necessary. The minister directed the Utility Stores to purchase food commodities at wholesale prices and provide maximum benefits to consumers.

Asad Umar said that price-hike would start to decline this month (February 2020) and inflation was expected to drop significantly. He made these observations while chairing a review meeting for controlling food inflation here on Friday.

The CPI based inflation had witnessed 14.6 percent height in January 2020, the highest-ever in the last one decade on monthly basis. Now it is expected that the inflation will come down and will be standing at slightly over 13 percent for February 2020. The official circles believe that the economy had witnessed its lowest ebb and now the phase of rebound would kick-start as the LSM had turned into massive positive after witnessing an impressive growth in production of sugar. Now the CPI based inflation would also come down.

According to official statement issued here on Friday, Asad Umar chaired a review meeting on controlling food inflation here in Islamabad on Friday. A number of measures for overcoming the crisis of skyrocketing prices of food items were considered in the meeting. Asad Umar directed to strengthen the monitoring system of 18 essential commodities including wheat, sugar, flour, edible ghee/oil, potatoes, onions and pulses in all the provinces.

He directed Umar Lodhi, MD of Utility Stores, to check the prices of pulses. He also instructed the Ministry of Food for developing strategies to increase local production of food products. Asad Umar instructed to keep a close watch on the onion and potato trade situation. He said that the price-hike will start to decline this month (February 2020).