Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on Wednesday said efforts should be made to keep the prices of essential items in check and ensure their smooth supply throughout the country. Chairing a meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC), Tarin expressed satisfaction with the availability of sufficient stocks of wheat and directed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to formulate a strategy to optimally maintain its strategic reserves to meet any difficult situation in the future, said a Finance Ministry press release. The committee was informed that the price of wheat flour was almost stable across the country, however, the slight variation in it was due to the disruption in the supply caused by rain and fog. The Economic Adviser Finance Division briefed the NPMC about the weekly Sensitive Price Indicator(SPI), which had declined by 0.06 percent as compared to 0.43 percent last week. Around 33 food items contributed towards SPI’s increase by 0.05 percent and 18 non-food items towards its decrease by 0.11 percent. It was told that there was a decline in the SPI for the third time since December 31, 2021. The prices of seven items fell which contributed to its decline by 0.59 percent, including 0.27 percent of chicken and 0.35 percent of others. Similarly, a raise in the prices of 24 items increased the SPI by 0.53 percent, including 0.22 percent of tomatoes, 0.01 percent of garlic, 0.16 percent of petrol and 0.14 percent of others. The prices of perishable items like tomatoes increased due to rain in the country. The NPMC also discussed sugar prices and directed the Ministry of Industries and Production to expedite the process for building its strategic reserves and maintaining stability in prices. About pulses, the NPMC was informed that the prices of moog pulse had shown stability while those of gram, mash and masoor registered increase due to their less production in the world, variations in the exchange rate and increased freight charges. Minister Train expressed concern on the difference in retail and wholesale prices of pulses in the country and directed the Ministry of NFSandR to investigate and take appropriate action against the exploiters to maintain stability in the prices of imported pulses. As regards the edible oil, the meeting voiced concern on the increase in its prices in the country whereas the international market had witnessed a dip in them. It directed the Ministry of Industries and Production to formulate a strategy and explore alternative options for the import of edible oil to reduce its prices in the country. The NPMC was briefed on the availability of essential goods at subsidized rates at the Sastaa and Sahulat Bazaars across the country. Among others, the meeting was attended by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood, Secretary Ministry of Industries and Production, Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research, provincial chief secretaries, Economic Advisor Finance Division, Member Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Managing Director Utility Stores Corporation, Chairperson Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP), Chairman Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), Member Customs FBR and other senior officers.