Federal Minister for Finance & Revenue, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has directed the provincial governments and relevant departments to continue the momentum of strict price monitoring for provision of basic food items at affordable prices across the country. Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh issued these directions while chairing the meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) on Monday. The NPMC reviewed the price trend of essential commodities especially wheat, sugar, eggs and edible oil. The secretary finance briefed the NPMC that prices of wheat and eggs have registered a downward trend due to coordinated and consolidated efforts of the Provincial governments. Federal Minister for NFS&R Syed Fakhar Imam briefed the NPMC about the current status of wheat stock across the country and assured that all possible measures will be taken to ensure uninterrupted supply of wheat at affordable prices. Minister for Industries & Production Hammad Azhar apprised NPMC that production of sugar is likely to increase this year due to improved sugarcane crushing activity and would eventually release pressure on upward price trend. He also briefed NPMC about the steps being taken to control the prices of edible oil/ghee. The representative from the Punjab government briefed that a strict action has been taken against the role of middlemen in the sugarcane market as directed by NPMC. He informed that prices of sugar are currently stable in the province; however, in some areas marginal hike is observed due to fog and weather conditions. The minister for industries & production appreciated the efforts of the Punjab government in minimising the role of middlemen. Member Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) presented before NPMC a live dashboard of prices of essential items for comparative analysis which will be helpful in monitoring prices of essential items across major cities and markets in real time. The system is prepared by PBS to monitor food prices and figure out price fluctuations for timely decision making and smooth coordination among the provincial governments and departments concerned. The finance minister lauded the mechanism for effective price monitoring and sound decision making. The NPMC directed PBS to hold a meeting with the provincial governments to remove price disparity in essential items and urged the provinces to draw maximum benefit from the newly developed system. Special assistant to the prime minister on revenue, provincial chief secretaries, secretary M/o NFS&R, secretary industries & production, chairman FBR, member CCP, chairman Trading Corporation of Pakistan, MD PASSCO, MD USC, member IT & member national accounts from Pakistan Bureau of Statics and senior officers of the Finance Division participated in the meeting.