ISLAMABA D: As Ramazan bazaars were officially closed by the relevant authorities on Monday, traders started enjoying the free market economy in their favour and increased the prices of most daily-use items.

The fastest increase has been witnessed in the price of tomatoes that saw a jump of 100 per cent within 12 hours in the twin cities.

“This is an example of complete lack of governance. Same people, same stock, same place and the prices have doubled in just one day,” said Asmat Zehra, a local resident. She expressed dismay over rising prices at the Ramazan bazaar in Shamsabad.

“Tomatoes were being sold at Rs30 per kg a few days ago, at Rs60 on Monday and today it is available for Rs70,” she added.

However, she had to buy tomatoes from that place as the rates were even higher in other markets, including Margalla Town, where it was between Rs110 and Rs130 per kg and Rs120 in Commercial Market, Rawalpindi.

Similarly, the prices of onions too started moving upwards and reached Rs250 per five kg to Rs300 and even Rs400 per five kg in some parts of twin cities.

The simple argument presented by the retailers was that the wholesale fruit and vegetable market had almost closed as limited supplies arrived on Monday and Tuesday. Therefore, the commodities were in short supply.

“These are perishable items and cannot be stored for a longer period, while tomatoes, chillies and even onions have a higher rotting ratio in these summer months,” said Haji Rizwan Farooq, a wholesaler at the fruit and vegetable market.

The situation has become beneficial for the meat sellers too who also started charging higher on Monday and Tuesday.

Boneless beef in the twin cities was selling between Rs550 and Rs580 per kg but it was increased to Rs600 and Rs700 per kg in Commercial Market Rawalpindi and Aabpara in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, an official of the capital administration said the government’s notified rate of Rs400 per kg applied only on beef with bones and the boneless meat was not considered as an essential item.

With Eid holidays extending up to June 9, the traders are likely to enjoy their own version of free market as the official machinery too would be inactive.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2019