Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the Tiger Force, on Sunday, to keep a regular check on prices of food commodities in their localities and to post the information on their portal, saying he would discuss the future mechanism at a convention to be held in Islamabad next week.
“On coming Saturday, I will be meeting with our Tiger Force at Convention Centre (in Islamabad). From now till then, I want our Tiger Force to regularly check prices of daal (pulses), aata (wheat flour), sugar and ghee in their localities and post on Tiger Force portal. Will discuss in Saturday’s meeting,” the prime minister said in a post on his official account on Twitter.
A day earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that the government would use all of the resources at the state’s disposal to bring down food prices by Monday. On Twitter, the prime minister said the government was already examining causes of the price hikes. “We are already examining causes of the price hikes: whether there is a genuine supply shortage or simply hoarding by mafias; smuggling, if any; or a price rise due to international prices such as for palm oil, lentils etc,” he had remarked.
Prices faced by the lowest income quintile in the first quarter of FY21 have registered an increase. The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) has jumped from 2.5% in FY19 to 12.5%
The Prime Minister assured the people that the strategy will be in place from “next week” to bring down prices.
Legal experts believe that the Corona Relief Tiger Force (CRTF) cannot enforce any direction of the government since it has been established without lawful backing.
“This is more like a private force formed by a political party. The government could have given legitimacy and legal backing to the force by promulgating an ordinance,” former president of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association Raja Inam Ameen Minhas had said.
According to an Islamabad administration official, the monitoring of the prices is the basic responsibility of the district administration and only the officials having magisterial powers can take action against profiteers and hoarders. The only job which the CRTF members can perform, according to him, is to monitor the situation and report it to the administration.
The federal government earlier constituted a National Price Monitoring Committee led by the finance ministry. The last meeting held on the directions of the PM’s office discussed “the abnormal variation in the prices of perishable items such as tomatoes, potatoes, onions as well as other essential items like wheat, sugar and chicken”.
At last week’s cabinet meeting, when reviewing Pakistan’s economic situation, a number of ministers had expressed resentment over the prevailing price hike and called for taking immediate steps to bring down inflation to prevent the opposition from “exploiting the issue” during its anti-government campaign.
The Asian Development Bank, in a recent report, said Pakistan’s economy may grow at a pace of 2% in the current fiscal year – the fifth-lowest pace among South Asian countries, and Islamabad also remains at the rock bottom of global Wellness Index
Rising food prices had pushed inflation to 10.7% in the last fiscal year, which is now projected to slow to 7.5% this fiscal year.