Finance Minister Hammad Azhar has directed the representatives of the provincial government to take appropriate measures for keeping prices of wheat flour in check. The finance minister issued this direction while chairing a meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) on Monday. Hammad Azhar directed the provinces that wheat must be procured in a smooth and timely manner in coordination with all federal and provincial organisations. He expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made and initiatives taken by the provincial governments in this regard. He asked the provinces to take all possible measures to ensure smooth supply of wheat at fair prices across the board. The finance minister stated that controlling inflation is the top most priority of the government and emphasised the need for coordinated and consolidated efforts by all concerned to provide essential items to the general public at fair prices. The NPMC reviewed the price trend of essential commodities especially wheat flour, sugar, vegetable ghee, chicken and eggs during the last week. The secretary finance briefed the committee about weekly SPI, which decreased by 0.43 percent whereas prices of 12 basic commodities registered a decline and 24 items remained stable during the week under review, he added. The secretary of food briefed the committee about the sufficient stock of wheat across the country. The overall release position by the respective provinces was also reviewed during the meeting. All the four provinces briefed the finance minister about their ongoing wheat procurement plans. The Punjab government updated the committee about setting up Ramzan/Sahulat Bazaars for providing essential commodities at subsidised rates during the holy month. The committee directed the representatives of the provincial governments to ensure provision of basic commodities at discounted prices through Ramzan/Sahulat Bazaars in order to provide maximum relief to the consumers in compliance with the directives of the Prime Minister. The MD USC also briefed the committee about the measures being taken to ensure availability of basic need items at subsidised prices under the “Ramazan Relief Package” through chain of outlets across the country. The finance minister directed MD USC to ensure uninterrupted supply of basic commodities at Utility Stores outlets during Ramazan. The finance minister sought details from the provincial food secretaries regarding prevailing sugar prices in respective markets and directed to strictly monitor the prices of sugar at retail levels to ensure steady supply and counter price disparity effectively. The additional secretary, Ministry of Industries and Production, updated the committee about a slight decrease in international prices of sugar which will reduce the upward pressure on sugar prices in domestic markets.