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Tomato prices expose official mechanism

September 29, 2017

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SAHIWAL: Price regulators have no mechanism to determine the prices of vegetable and fruit on the basis of demand and supply.

Consumers are complaining about the higher prices of tomato in the open market. Though, tomato prices have come down from Rs200 to 160 per kilogramme (kg) over the week, but as per official prices of Rs100-110 per kg, it is still being sold on inflated rates.

Vegetable sellers, however, said that how they could sell tomatoes at Rs110 when they themselves were buying it at Rs140-160.

IZ Bhatti, market committee chairman, said tomato supplies had suffered ‘more demand and less supply’ phenomena, so they were not in a position to enforce the official prices. Dawn learnt that this week, market committee officials had fined shopkeepers for overcharging which triggered unrest among vegetables sellers who went to Dr Shafaqat, livestock officer and the head of the price control committee, complaining about the operation.

Market committee officials says their job is only to issue daily rates and not to control demand supply lines.

A price control committee official said the tomato crop from Sindh had been delayed which created a crisis like situation in Punjab. Now, tomato is being supplied from Balochistan which increases cost.

Vegetable traders said that importing tomato from Iran and Afghanistan would take time which would further increase the prices.

Interestingly, local price control committee and market committee officials say that they themselves are buying tomato at Rs160.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2017