Managing Director, Utility Stores Corporation (USC) UmerLodhi on Tuesday announced that ‘a special Ramzan discount Package’ would start from April 1 at all utility stores of the country with affordable rates, giving subsidy to over 19 essential commodities. Talking to a private news channel, he said like every year, USC would announce a special Ramazan relief package for citizens which would continue till Eid UL Fit, adding, this Ramazan relief package would be more special as compared to previous years. He said in the light of the present experiences of high prices of food items in market, comprehensive steps would be taken for the provision of best facilities to people during Ramazan.The MD said the package would be approved by the Economic Coordination Council (ECC).He said smooth supply of all commodities across the country would also be ensured during the holy month. USC MD said that a special mechanism to monitor stock and availability of necessary food items at the utility stores would also be installed at district level. The MD said USC would maintain stocks of daily essential items to act as a price moderator in the market to prevent profiteering and hoarding, adding, the corporation would buy quality items directly from producers and sell them at cheaper prices. Replying to a query about high prices, he denied that the prices of milk, sugar, flour and ghee were yet stable and there was no any price difference but in coming days the price of ghee would increase 30 percent due to prices of manufacturing. He mentioned that the USC network has been playing an important role in providing essential items at discounted prices to the masses as the prices of USC are significantly low as compared to the prices prevailing in domestic markets. He said they expect that the sales target for the month of Ramazan would be easily achieved owing to the record sale this year at the USC outlets across the country. Talking about shortage of essential items in the utility stores, due to a big price difference of essential commodities from market rates and less prices in Utility Stores, there was unexpectedly high sale, leading to shortage of some products items. Utility Store was committed to fulfill its promise of providing essential commodities to the general public at subsidized rates, he added. He advised people that they should buy only required items in Ramazan as unnecessary stock of relief items at homes would may cause shortages in stores. Affordable Prices: Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Monday reiterated the firm commitment of the government to ensure provision of essential commodities at affordable prices across the board. Chairing the weekly meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC), the federal minister urged the provincial governments and departments concerned to make coordinated efforts to keep prices of basic commodities in check. Among others, the meeting was attended by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, Federal Minister for Industries and Production HammadAzhar, SAPM on Revenue DrWaqar Masood, Member CCP, Member Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), MD PASSCO, MD Utility Stores Corporation (USC), representatives of the provincial governments and senior officials of the Finance Division, according to press statement issued by the finance ministry. The committee reviewed the price trend of essential commodities especially wheat flour, sugar, vegetable ghee, chicken and eggs during the last week.The weekly Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) recorded a slight increase of 0.55% whereas prices of 08 basic items registered a decline and 18 commodities remained stable during the week under review. The Secretary, Ministry of Industries and Production briefed NPMC about 11 most essential commodities being offered by the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) at subsidized prices across the country.The USC network has been playing an important role in providing essential items at discounted prices to the masses as the prices of USC are significantly low as compared to the prices prevailing in domestic markets, he added. Minister for Industries and Production HammadAzhar updated the committee that the Ministry was closely monitoring the current price trend of vegetable ghee/cooking oil and taking corrective measures to ensure fair price for the consumers.He directed the provinces to expedite provision of estimates regarding sugar stock needed during the current year.