Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has said the government will start giving targeted subsidies from this month to the weak segments of society on essential commodities including sugar, flour and pulses.
Addressing a news conference along with Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib and Special Assistant on Food Security Jamshed Cheema, he said the targeted subsidy will be in the form of cash assistance, which will cover thirty five to forty percent of the population.
The finance minister said the government is also focusing on bolstering agricultural productivity.
In the medium to long term, commodity warehouses, cold storages and agricultural malls will be established with the aim to eliminate the role of middlemen and ensure that the farmers get the due price of their products.
He said strategic reserves of major commodities are also being built in order to ensure smooth supplies in the market.
The finance minister said that the prices of wheat will decline in the coming days. Tarin said the government has tried its level best not to fully pass on to the masses the impact of international increase in the prices of commodities.
He pointed out, “The sugar prices increased by 48 percent in the world market but we only creased its price by 11 percent. Palm oil saw an increase of fifty percent but we increased the price by 33 to 35 percent. Similarly the prices of crude oil and wheat were not enhanced as per the international market.”
The minister said that increase in prices is an international issue right now. He said that in Pakistan, the Consumer price index (CPI) based inflation stood at 4.8 percent in 2018, which went up to 6.8 percent in 2019 and then 10.74 percent in 2020 and reduced to 8.9 in 2021 and now it will remain at 8 percent during the current fiscal year.
He said, in Pakistan, food inflation in July 2020 was 15.1 percent (urban), 17.8 percent (rural) now reduced to 10.2 percent (urban) and rural 9.1 (rural), showing around 5 percent decline in urban inflation and 7 percent in rural.
The minister, however, was of the view that Pakistan is linked to the international market as it has to import wheat, sugar, pulses, ghee, hence, the prices impact the local market.
The finance minister said the government is also giving attention to enhancing the income of the people to enhance their purchasing power.
Tarin said that the Kamyab Pakistan Programme will be launched this month in order to enable the weak segments of the society to earn their livelihoods.
He revealed that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had raised objections to the programme that resulted in a one-month delay.