KARACHI: Some vegetables and nearly all fruits have become up to three times more expensive than they were before Ramazan, as retailers are overcharging consumers in the absence of an effective price checking mechanism.

Tomato, which was available at Rs30 to Rs40 per kg ahead of Ramazan, now costs between Rs100 and Rs120 per kg while the rate of capsicum has soared to Rs240 per kg from Rs80 per kg. Similarly, the prices of green chilly, lemon and cabbage have increased from Rs80 to Rs120, Rs300 to Rs400 and from Rs60 to Rs80 per kg, respectively.

A dozen of bananas are priced between Rs120 and Rs150, while their pre-Ramazan rate was Rs80. The prices of melon (kharbooza), peach, and cantaloupe (garma) increased from Rs50 to Rs100; from Rs100 to Rs180 and from Rs60 to Rs80 per kg, respectively. Water melon was being sold at Rs30 before the holy month but it is priced at Rs40 per kg now.

Retailers are charging Rs160 to Rs200 per kg forSindhri mango while the price of Sindhri mango in small size hovers between Rs120 and Rs140 per kg. Mango varieties had arrived in markets a few days before Ramazan and retailers were already charging higher prices.

Golden apple price surged to up to Rs250 from Rs150 per kg, while other imported varieties of apple are priced above Rs300.

A consumer in Federal B. Area said he bought 1.5kg Sindhri mango, half kilogram of golden apple, six bananas and half kilogram of melon for Rs520. He said the government had no write to check profiteering.

The city government had claimed to have an effective system for monitoring of overcharging during Ramazan but consumers have yet to witness any kind of price checking campaign or complaint cells. There is no importance of official price list. Most of the retailers have not displayed the list while those displaying the list at their shops were not following it.

Residents said governments and major stores in other countries of the world offer discount package on essential items for the Muslim community during the fasting month but the situation in Pakistan was opposite.

Action against retailers

According to a handout issued by the Karachi commissioner, action was taken against 333 retailers involved in overcharging consumers. Of them, 23 retailers were sent to jail and over Rs700,000 fine was imposed on others.

Commissioner Aijaz Ahmed Khan has asked the district administration to ensure sale of essential goods as per official rate list and continue taking action against profiteers.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2017

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