No administrative measure on the part of the
government could help to effectively check the artificial jump in the
prices of essential commodities during the holy month of Ramazan.
In fact, it is the sense of social responsibility, a
sense of social and human values, which can stop the profiteers to
exploit the consumers by taking undue advantage of the holy month of
Ramazan, as the law has obviously failed to stop them because of the
rampant corruption in the law enforcing agencies.
It has become a regular feature that the profiteers
continue to exploit the consumers in the absence of any solid resistance
from the consumers. It is feared that trend would continue to persist
unless a sense of effective resistance is generated among the citizens.
It is painful to note that prices of fruits,
vegetables, poultry, beef, mutton and other essential items of daily
life increased from 50 to 200 percent during the holy month of Ramazan.
"The responsibility of controlling prices lies
on the government yet, how can the government check millions of whole
sellers, retailers, shopkeepers and hawkers at each and every point all
over the country," remarked a CDGK's official with the request of
Even the heavy penalties and fines could not stop the
profiteers from the malign intention of exploiting people during the
It is amazing to note that the traders involved in
undue profit taking if penalized with heavy fines do not bother as they
pass on the additional amount of penalty to the consumers.
A fruit vendor in Saddar who was fined of Rs500 for
not displaying the prices list and selling fruit at inflated rates,
while justifying himself for charging the high prices argued that he had
to give bribe to price controlling team who punished him for not
offering the bribe.
Hence the prices have to go up because we have also
to please the price controlling officials, cotton trader alleged.
An official of the price controlling team, however,
claimed "We are doing our level best to control the prices of
essential commodities in all over city, there was a problem and dispute
of giving magisterial powers that has been now solved, now prices would
come down at the specified level within two to three days."
City Nazim Niamatullah Khan told the PAGE last
Thursday, he accepted that in many parts of the city prices of essential
commodities including fruit and vegetables are still high but hoped that
situation would be well in control within few days.
But factual position in markets was horrible. Banana
which was being sold at Rs. 20 to 25 a dozen before Ramazan was being
sold in the first week of Ramazan from Rs. 40 to Rs. 60 per dozen. In
other perishable items, fruit prices have always created a rumpus and
the government and retailers have always been seen blaming each other.
Retailers usually charge 30-100 per cent higher prices in every Ramazan
and sometimes 150 per cent just hours before the start of the holy
month, thus blaming government machinery over faulty fixing of prices.
City government, on its part contends that fruit sellers deliberately
charge higher prices as they know that fruit is a hot item and consumers
will not hesitate in paying higher prices. Fruit and vegetable
wholesalers do not agree with the government's decision of binding them
for selling the commodity at controlled rates. They say that market
forces should be given free hand as fruits and vegetables are perishable
items and their prices fluctuate on demand and supply basis. They claim
that perishable items cannot be piled up at godowns to make windfalls in
Ramazan. Some consumer bodies, formed to safeguard the interest of
common men, are actually least bothered about consumers' plight. They
sometimes only give lame statements about inflationary trends, but in
practical terms, their existence has failed to make any impact on the
life of citizens. Lets see how Consumer Right Council, which has been
set up in Sindh, protects the consumers' right.
The sugar prices at both the wholesale and retail
markets rose 6.66 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively. The prices at
wholesale market surged 6.66 percent to Rs 1,600 per 100 kg bag while
prices at retail markets rose 12.6 percent to Rs 18 per kg.
"The sugar mills have reduced the supply in
order to increase prices," said Anis Majeed, chairman Karachi
Wholesale Grocers Association. He said it is expected that prices would
continue upward trend due to short supply. Farid Qureshi, general
secretary Karachi Retail Grocers Group, said it is expected that sugar
prices might touch Rs 20 to Rs 21 per kg in retail markets in coming
The wheat prices have increased by 10.68 percent to
Rs 1,300 per 100 kg bag due to low supply. Mr Majeed said wheat prices
in the open market have increased by Rs 125 per bag and added that it is
expected that prices would rise further due to shortage of wheat.
Shakeel Ahmed, a wholesale trader of commodities at Jodia Bazaar, said
the provincial food department has transported 10,000 wheat bags to
Karachi but quality of the wheat is not good. Flour millers said there
was a hope that wheat will be available to all flour mills but still
there is shortage of wheat in market as well as in the government
godowns. Naeem Malik, vice chairman Pakistan Flour Mills Association (Sindh
Zone), said Sindh Food Department was only providing wheat to selected
flour mills, which is also a main reason of flour shortage in the city.
Flour prices have gone up by 8.33 percent to Rs 1,300 per 80 kg bag in