Wheat War

It is encouraging to see that our government is paying close at­tention to the pricing of essential goods like roti, as it contin­ues to tackle the macroeconomic problems of the nation. Crack­ing down on roti and naan prices has become a vital mission across Rawalpindi, as reflected by the CM and Nawaz Sharif’s visits to en­sure that the new price ceilings are being followed.

This is clearly a very meticulous and arduous process – one we would not need to carry out if store owners simply followed the price ceilings set by the government – but nevertheless it is an in­dispensable part of alleviating the burden of inflation on our citi­zens who are heavily reliant on such a staple food item.

The district administration is trying its best to ensure compliance with the newly mandated prices. Several tandoors have been sealed or fined for flouting the prices, despite the warnings of legal reper­cussions. Again, this is a tedious process, but it is necessary.

Similarly, if we truly want to ensure the effectiveness of this crack­down, we need to move past simply closing down tandoors. Tan­door owners are simply bearing the brunt of the cost of their raw material, flour, and selling an expensive end product. This is visible and tangible, but the clandestine operations of the entities that con­trol the flour market are much more difficult to tackle. They have the power to manipulate the supply chain by hoarding flour and ar­tificially inflating prices, and therefore, they have a way to circum­vent the reduced prices at the retail level.

There are a lot of vested interests at stake here, so the flour mafia will certainly not go down without a fight. The incarceration of the president of the APNA for inciting dissent against the price reduction shows the kind of resistance that we can expect in the near future.

For the coming weeks, we will most certainly need an enhanced level of surveillance along the entire supply chain, and stringent penalties for hoarding and price manipulation must be maintained to show the government’s zero-tolerance stance in this matter.

As always, the dissemination of misinformation must be tackled at all costs. If our consumers have the knowledge and awareness of what the fair prices of commodities are, it can bolster the efficacy of our enforce­ment measures as well. Nevertheless, sustained vigilance will be most crucial to ensure that our populace gets the relief it desperately needs.

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