IMRAN ALI KUNDI
ISLAMABAD - Keeping the unscrupulous tradition alive, the profiteers and hoarders are once again active to exploit the helpless consumers by increasing the prices of basic food commodities at the advent of holy month of Ramazan in open market.TheNation has learnt during a visit to several markets of the federal capital that prices of edibles had shown massive increase in last couple of days, only due to the arrival of holy month of Ramazan. Market sources say prices of vegetables, fruits, chicken, pulses and others food items have enhanced, thus multiplying the problems of the inflation-stricken people of the country. They further informed that price of chicken had cross the marks of Rs 210 per kg in different market of the city, which was around Rs 170 per kg a few days before. Similarly, prices of tomatoes, onion, potatoes and garlic have almost doubled only in a three to four days period.Meanwhile, prices of fruits also enhanced in the city. Price of mangoes went up to over Rs 80 to Rs 90 per kg against the earlier prices of Rs 60 to Rs 70 per kg, while the price of per dozen bananas stands at Rs 170 against the earlier price of Rs 140 per dozen. Similarly, prices of apples, apricot and grapes have also experienced similar trend.Consumers have informed that the government has no control over price mechanism in open market, as shopkeepers are fixing prices at their own will. The shopkeepers did not display the prices list issued by the local administration authority.Talking to The Nation, a customer Mohammad Kamran, 37, in Aabpara Market of the federal capital said the government completely failed to provide any kind of relief to the masses in the holy month of Ramazan. He was of the view that the government provide relief package only at Utility Stores Corporation (USC) outlets, which were not much in numbers so as to cater the needs of all the people.He demanded of the government to keep an eye at open market so that the skyrocketing prices could be controlled. “Chicken price was around Rs 160 to Rs 170 per kg few days before has gone up to over Rs 210 per kg only because of the Ramazan,” he added.Another customer, Bilal Hussain, 45, said prices of basic food items had increase many times in just one week. He demanded of the government to provide relief to the masses in the holy month.On the other hand, shopkeepers are of the view it is common practice that prices of food items surged ahead of holy month of Ramazan. However, they dispelled the impression that they are behind the hoarding of the commodities.
KARACHI - Lack of governance drove retailers to continue swindling people and charging exorbitant prices just at the beginning of Ramazan.Prices of daily use items shows a proportional increase of around 100 to 200 per cent in retail sector against their prices in the wholesale markets.The onion price has jumped up by Rs 5 per kg, charging Rs25 or Rs 30, although the actual price of onion was around Rs20 before a week of Ramazan.A random market survey on Friday showed a jump in tomatoes price to Rs 40 from Rs 30 per kg, while it was Rs20 to Rs 25 per kg seven days back.Traders were demanding Rs 25 per kg for potatoes as compared to Rs 20 per kg, while cucumber price swelled to Rs 50 to 60 from Rs 30 to Rs 40 per kg.The lokki price touched Rs 40 from Rs 30 to 35 per kg, while lady finger price is now available at Rs50 to 60 per kg as compared to Rs 30 to 40 per kg. Traders were seen asking consumers Rs 50 to Rs 60 per kg for tinda as compared to Rs 40 per kg, while bitter gourd price also hit to Rs 30 to Rs 40 from Rs 25 to Rs 30 per kg.Majority of the traders linked the retail price hike to rising trend in wholesale prices of vegetables.Consumers also failed to receive any price relief in vegetables despite cut in diesel prices in June. Bulk of vegetable arrives on the diesel-run heavy vehicles from up country.Citizens have complained that it is a yearly routine that before the start of Ramzan, shopkeepers increase the prices of fruit and vegetables which is unwarranted and against the spirit of Islam.They have also complained that there is neither price lists in the market nor the government officials visiting to control this menace.On the other side, extreme price hike of bakery nimko and sweets items have also been observed despite the price list issued by the government on Friday. It is pertinent to mention here that nimko and bakery stuff sellers have had earlier changed the prices without bothering the price list issued by the government. As per details samosa will be available on Rs 144 per dozen, pakkora Rs 260 per kg, khajla and phheni at Rs 260 per kg, Jumbo bread on Rs 70, Rusk at Rs 180 per kg, chicken patties Rs 360 per dozen. While a day earlier, Meat Merchants’ Welfare Association Karachi’s President Shaikh Kamran Ikram Qureshi and other leaders met Karachi Commissioner Roshan Ali Shaikh last evening and assured that they would not increase the meat price during Ramadan and maintain it at last year’s level.As per decision taken in the meeting the meat prices would be as follows: Mutton Rs.500/kg, Beef along with bones Rs 260/kg and without bones Rs 290/kg, calf meat Rs 300/kg.Vice president Pakistan National Consumer Movement Sabdatullah said there was a different of more than 50 per cent between the price given list given by the government and items available in the market.He said the chicken prices across the city had also been raised as it reached up to Rs 230 or Rs 250 per kg against the previous level of Rs 190.The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) expressed deep regret at the increase in prices of commodities items of rice, wheat, sugar, spices, flour, dates, fruits and other daily items and urged the authorities to control the situation to facilitate the people in the holy month of Ramzan.President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver urged the SME manufacturers of food items not to increase prices of their products during Ramzan and ensure that their outlets are not over charging for syrups, confectionery, pastries and fried items and to also ensure that sufficient supplies are provided to their depots.He expressed regret that the merchants have increased the prices on the eve of Ramazan and instead of reducing the prices they have increased the prices to make quick gains knowing that the consumers will be compelled to buy the items due to fasting.Muhammad Aqeel Khandwalla convener commodities committee assured the members that the committee would keep a strict check on the wholesale and retail outlets and report the matter to the authorities of any undue and unfair price increase in the items of daily use especially milk, oil, ghee, sugar, rice, flour, vermicelli and other food items.Arshad Anjum, convener of law and order committee, also assured the union that his team would visit the retailers and check the prices in different areas and report any malpractice of overcharging to the authorities.
LAHORE – Contrary to the tradition, the prices of major edibles are stable or have shown some downward slide in the wholesale market of the provincial capital, as all main grocery items are available for sale at or below the prices fixed by the provincial government.Rates of not a single item has increased with a view to arrival of the Ramazan, which is usually considered the month of hoarding and profitability, all kinds of pulses, grams, tea, spices, cooking oil and rice are being sold at the old price for the last two weeks while prices of sugar and gram flour, the most used items in the holy month, have decreased marginally just ahead of Ramazan.However, the situation in retail markets is absolutely different, where almost every shopkeeper is violating the govt price list, as they do not even bother to display the list. The district coordination officer has released a price list and every shopkeeper is bound to follow the rates, besides displaying the list in his shop. But a visit to different markets by The Nation revealed that no retailer is implementing this directive while charging exorbitant rates of each item, violating the official list openly.However, the Akbari Mandi wholesale market traders have displayed the list and selling most of the edible as par with the rates of government. The rate of gram pulse was Rs 94 per kg, gram flour Rs101 per kg, masoor pulse Rs80 per kg, moong washed Rs 100, white gram Rs105, red chilli Rs215 per kg, sugar Rs 49 per kg, rice ordinary quality Rs 80 to 85 per kg and mash washed Rs 110 per kg.On the other hand, during survey of different retail markets, it was found that not a single shopkeeper displayed the rate list issued by the govt, as they were openly violating the rate list and no one was checking or questioning them.The retailers are selling gram pulse at Rs 100 to Rs 120 per kg instead of fixed rate of Rs 98 per kg, gram flour Rs 110 to 120 per kg instead of Rs 101, moong washed Rs 120 to 140 instead of Rs 100, gram Rs 110 to 130 instead of Rs 105 per kg, gram black Rs 100 to 112 instead of Rs 94 per kg, masoor Rs 100 to 112 instead of Rs 80 per kg, mash washed Rs 140 to 180 per kg instead of Rs110, rice for Rs 100 to Rs 115 per kg instead of Rs 85 a kg. However cooking oil and ghee is available for Rs 160-65 per kg, the rates of which have not been fixed by the government. Sugar rate though has decreased by Rs 2 per kg to Rs 49 per kg in the wholesale market but the retailer are continued to sell white sweetener at the earlier price of Rs 54 per kg.Mehboob Anwar Bobi Butt, president Karyana Chemical and Food Grain Trade Group, observed that after lifting edibles at comparatively reasonable rates from the wholesale markets at Akbari Mandi, the retailers and push-cart owners were charging higher prices from vulnerable customers, pocketing high profit margin of over 100 to 150 per cent particularly in sale of dates, the major item of the holy month of Ramazan.Aware of consumers’ interest in dates, particularly of Iran’s, and indirectly facilitated by the government’s ineffective price control machinery, retailers are exploiting the situation, he added.Same is the case with the rates of other kitchen items, including pulses, besan (gram flour), rice, red chilli and spices, which are stable or have registered a little downfall in the wholesale market but, retailer are selling the items at exorbitant prices, he said. Thin demand of commodities either kept the prices unchanged or caused downward trend in some items as he said buyers were not turning up in larger numbers in the Akbari Mandi, wholesale market. He said, in the whole Akbari Mandi, all traders have displayed the rate list and following it strictly, as most of the items are being sold below the rates fixed by the govt.For example, the sugar has witnessed a decrease of Rs2 per kg from Rs51 per kg to Rs49.5 per kg, he added.He said that consumers, ignorant of the fair price, end up paying more. The impression in the local market is that wholesalers earn more margin and sell commodity at high prices and retailers are forced to supply them for consumers at high rates.For example, a majority of dates’ retailers are demanding Rs 200 per kg for average standard Sukhar dates and Rs 400-450 for Iranian and Iraqi dates.He said that the government initiatives have almost failed to make any impact on the local markets before Ramazan as prices of essential commodities have gone up artificially all over the province.Prices of several veggies are also on upward trend, though there is no reason behind this except profiteering. Similarly prices of other essentials that are mostly consumed during the holy month of fasting like onion, garlic, tomato and potato are gradually increasing forcing the low and mid-income groups to bear the brunt of it. Bobi Butt said that a coordinated effort is needed for the greater interest of the consumers to rein in the artificial price-hike. The government needs to control the profiteers with an iron hand to rein in the price spiral, he said, suggesting implementation of the consumer law immediately.While most of the retailers do not quote the purchasing wholesale price, they claim that their margin does not exceed Rs5 per kg. They blamed higher transportation charges after rise in petroleum products and CNG/LPG prices, coupled with rising cost of living, to sharp increase in price of edible items.
SAID ALAM KHAN
PESHAWAR - No visible steps the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has taken yet to cope with expected price hike, check hoarding and make essential commodities available at markets during the Holy month of Ramazan, while district administration claimed that at least five sasta bazaars and different price checking teams have already been constituted to ensure minimum rates in the whole month.In fact, the month of Ramazan teaches us humanity and benevolence. It is the month of sacrifice and self-restrain on one side, while on other, it is an unfortunate that this holy month is also known for sky rocketing prices, and this year the same is expected too as a few days left in commencing Ramadan.Visiting various markets, not too much, but pre-Ramazan price hike was witnessed in fruits and foods items mainly used in this holy month. During conversation with buyers, it was observed that retailers, wholesale dealers and shopkeepers were allegedly stocking enough.Experience shows that the government measures for controlling prices do not bear fruit because no action is taken against the unscrupulous traders. People expect that necessary steps will be taken to implement different measures, said a shopper, Anees-ur-Rehman, while busy in collecting tomato at grocery store. “Let the government show some examples of compliance. If traders do not comply, they should not go unpunished, and action must be taken against shopkeepers and profiteers ahead of Ramazan so that to stop this menace, he suggested.A few days left in start of the holy month, but unfortunately, no noticeable steps have so far been taken to control prices during Ramadan. There must be cut-prices instead of overcharging, but who cares, those who are responsible to have a check over, are seen nowhere, he worried. Neither special price checking magistrates and price control committees nor do any check and balance system exist in the province, which is an unfortunately, as again people would be at the mercy of shopkeepers. Apart from, provincial government doesn’t bother even to set up Sasta bazaars during Ramadan so that low income people could be provided essential items at reasonable rates, a retired school teacher, Mohammad Ashraf replied, when he was asked.Certainly, there should be magistracy system, in which, magistrates make frequently visits to markets to check prices of essential commodities and must take action against those who are found guilty of overcharging and sale of inferior quality items to the consumers, he opined.Seeing alarming inflation ahead of Ramadan is visible to some extent. Law exists, but, who will implement it take action against hoarders and profiteers. To make a handsome increase in prices, essential commodities disappear of markets, so, it would not be wrong to say that artificial crisis is being created to make more profit.Well-placed officials in district administration told The Nation that at least five Sasta Bazaars-one each at all four towns and DPA would be setup, where daily use stuffs be made available at government prices. At these bazaars, utility stores’ counters would also be established so that to give maximum relief to common people.To control sky rocketing prices, six price checking teams have also been constituted, which would raids, if there is any complaints of overcharging against government rates. ACO, Peshawar, Syed Zafar Ali Shah would lead these teams, which would make surprise visits to various bazaars.
QUETTA - It has now become a tradition in the country that with the advent of the holy month of Ramazan the rates of daily-use items increase manifold because business community and traders consider Ramazan a month of minting money instead of giving relief to the people.Therefore, a huge surge has been witnessed in almost all daily-use commodities in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan and it appears that the profiteers and hoarders have become active to gain maximum profit during this mega- buying month. Besides, the prices of essential commodities, the prices of vegetables, fruits and all other basic commodities have gone beyond the reach of common man who has been already burdened with surging prices of fuel and other basic necessities. The prices of almost all daily commodities, including sugar, rice, pulses, chicken, mutton, beef, vegetables and fruits’ prices have gone spiralling high in local markets.In the markets, the chicken is being sold at around Rs 260 a kilogramme, mutton 520 a kilogramme and beef is being sold at Rs 370 a kilogramme. Dates are available at Rs 200 to Rs 360 per kilogramme while besan which is regularly used in Ramazan for making traditional dish “pakkora” for Iftar to around Rs 130 kilogramme.Yogurt is being sold at Rs 85 to Rs 90 while a litre of milk costs Rs 80 to Rs 85. The price of bread has also been increased by one rupee and the new price of bread is Rs 11.When this ascribe asked a shopkeeper, running a general store for mounting prices of daily-use items he said, “shopkeepers are not only responsible for price hike in the month of Ramazan rather there are many other factors behind it. The rise in fuel and utility bills is also main the reasons for increasing price of daily commodities”. However, he conceded that shopkeepers and traders increase the prices of daily-use items a little bit in the month of Ramazan since every person strive to buy something for his family.On the other hand, the price control system of the city district government does not seem active in controlling and maintaining the prices even before the Ramazan.The price lists issued by the local administration seem just a showpiece hung up high in shops while in some areas the markets do not have retail price list mechanism at all. The shop-keepers are free to fix prices of items according to their own choices. Sugar is being sold at 60 rupees per kg while it has been 52/-to 55/-rupees per kg a week ago and oil is being sold at 120 rupees per kg while it was 115/-rupees per kg.Prices of banana, apple, mango and watermelon have increased with the ratio of Rs 20, Rs 30, Rs 15 and 50 per kg respectively.”Poor check and balance by the administration on market system, is one of the main reasons of considerable cause of price-hike,” said a customer, Muhammad Ehsan and adding that most of the markets lack price lists and somehow if it was issued, it was not implemented fully. The only solution to solve price hike is the formation of renewed market control system. “Proper and timely action of authorities concerned can contribute a lot to confront the manipulated price-hike,” he added.Market experts say hoarding and black marketing are the key reasons of price-hike.They said traders extract unlawful and unethical benefits by selling commodities on a price higher than the original one.“They start hoarding in the earlier months of Ramadan and then they create artificial shortage of some products in the market by storing these products at cheaper rates. All the hoards are solely purchased by them and later on they sell it according to their own rates” they added.