RAWALPINDI: The district administration has failed to control prices of edibles as shopkeepers are flouting the official price lists issued last week.

Sugar is selling at Rs100 per kg against the official rate of Rs93 while wheat flour is available at Rs960 per 15kg bag. The government has fixed the price of a 20kg bag of wheat flour at Rs860.

The district administration also fixed the price of milk at Rs90 per litre and curd at Rs100 but these are selling at Rs120 per litre and Rs130 per kg, respectively.

Rawalpindi Merchant Association President Saleem Pervaiz said it was not possible for retailers to sell sugar at low price after purchasing it at the increased rates from wholesalers.

“We got sugar at Rs93 per kg to Rs95 per kg and it is not possible to sell it at the same price. Officially, we have to sell sugar with a margin of three to four rupees.”

He said the district administration had fixed prices of edibles without any consultation with stakeholders. Market rates should be fixed after taking wholesalers and retailers on board, he added.

He said chaki flour (private) was available at a high rate while controlled rate wheat flour was available at cheaper prices. But due to low quality, people do not use it. He said the government had fixed the controlled rate of wheat flour at Rs860 per 20kg but in the market 15kg bag was selling at Rs960 and 25kg bag at Rs1,600.

On the other hand, consumers criticised the district administration and said there was no control on the prices of sugar, wheat, milk and curd.

“I purchased milk at Rs120 per litre, sugar at Rs100 per kg, curd at Rs130 per kg and wheat flour at Rs320 per 5kg,” said Mohammad Akram, a resident of Bhabara Bazaar. Farooq Ahmed, a resident of Allahabad, said the government had failed to control prices of edibles which were increasing each day. He said he bought five kg flour for Rs340 and two kg sugar for Rs200.

Deputy Commissioner Anwarul Haq was not available for comments.

Taxila

In the absence of an effective price checking mechanism, naan and yogurt prices in Wah have gone up in violation of the officially fixed rates.

Naanbais have increased prices of naan from Rs10 to Rs12 while dairy farmers are charging Rs130 instead of Rs120 for a kg of yogurt in most localities of Wah.

Before Eidul Azha, naan was available at Rs10 and yogurt at Rs120 per kg. The localities included Anwar Chowk, Benazir Colony, Shadman Town, Gulshan Colony, Lalarukh, Gadwal, Lalazar and Nawababad.

Many owners of tandoors have also displayed a new price list issued by their association following what they said an increase in the flour prices.

Representatives of naanbais said it was not possible for them to sell their products at the pre-Eid prices.

Muttahida Naanbai Association President Zar Wali Khan said the exorbitant increase in the production cost had forced them to raise the rates. He said the price of wheat had gone up from Rs1,400 to Rs1,800 per 40 kg while that of a bag of fine flour had gone up from Rs805 to Rs1,050 in the market.

“Gas and electricity tariffs and prices of polythene bags, fine flour and sesame seeds have also gone up manifold. The prices of gas or LPG used in tandoors have also increased,” said another office-bearer, Shah Nawaz.

“Mills have even lowered the weight of a sack by one kg,” he added.

Sultan Abbasi at Lalarukh market said he had increased the price of the 120 gram bread from Rs10 to Rs12 according to a decision of the Clay Oven Owners Association.

“Rising prices of wheat and flour have compelled us to increase the price of naans as we do not have any other option,” said Khalid Khan, another tandoor owner.

A representative of All Pakistan Flour Mills Association told this reporter that mills had increased flour prices mainly due to purchase of wheat from the open market as government rates were announced in August every year and subsidised wheat rates for flour mills by next week.

Meanwhile, majority of milk sellers held dairy farmers responsible for the rise in yogurt prices and said they did not have any option except selling it at a higher rate.

An office-bearer of the local Dairy Cattle Farmers Association said the government had failed to realise the rising production cost, food inflation and utility charges. The residents of Wah Cantonment criticised the price control committees as well as the local administration for not taking any action on the sudden increase in the rate of breads.

When contacted, Assistant Commissioner Mohammad Faheem said the administration has taken notice of the artificial price hike. He said cases have been registered against two dairy product dealers. — Additional reporting by Amjad Iqbal

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2020