RAWALPINDI: With the prices of wheat flour, sugar, pulses, vegetables and meat rising, it appears that the market has not remained under administrative control.

Special price magistrates have been raiding markets every day and fining vendors, but traders argue that edible items have become expensive in the wholesale market and cannot be sold for lower prices.

They said that if they want to improve the supply of goods, the provincial government has to play its role.

The price of mutton has reached Rs1,350 per kilogram while beef is being sold for Rs650 per kg and chicken for Rs150 per kg.

The district administration appears unable to control the increase despite having the authority to fix the prices of edible items.

Prices are fluctuating by Rs10 to Rs50 every day. Daal moong is being sold for Rs240 per kg, daal mash for Rs260 per kg, daal channa for Rs150 per kg, chickpeas for Rs120 per kg, red chilli for Rs800 per kg, turmeric for Rs280 per kg, black pepper for Rs1,080 per kg, basin for Rs150 per kg, black masoor for Rs170 per kg, sugar for between Rs100 to Rs105 per kg, rice for Rs70 to Rs200 per kg depending on the type and a litre of vegetable oil for Rs237.

Onions are being sold Rs70 per kg, potatoes for Rs80 per kg and tomatoes for Rs85 to Rs100 per kig. Ginger is selling for Rs720 per kg and eggs for Rs140 per kg.

Abdul Rehman, a government servant, said inflation has made the lives of the poor miserable, with many people finding it difficult to meet house hold expenses with salaries that have not increased for two years.

Schoolteacher Mohammad Ramzan said that the government has not checked profiteering in retail markets in the country.

Mushtaq Raja, a resident of Tench Bhatta, said this situation was unprecedented. He said the increase in the cost of basic food items will affect the quality of average citizens’ lives, adding that household goods are already being sold at high prices.

He said sugar is not available in the market, with shopkeepers charging Rs100 to Rs105 for it.

“We cannot afford red or even white meat,” he said.

The prices of sugar and other edibles could increase further in the coming days, Rawalpindi Traders Association President Sharjeel Mir said. He said traders are facing additional difficulties, paying more to obtain commodities and then paying fines imposed on small traders by the district administration instead of catching the main dealers.

Rawalpindi Merchant Association President Saleem Pervaiz said that the prices of pulses have increased because they are all imported from other countries, and only daal channa is locally produced.

He said a 50kg bag of sugar is sold for Rs4,750 in the wholesale market, while wheat flour is sold for Rs1,020 per bag in the private market.

The price of the government quota is Rs860 per bag, but is not available.

Butchers said that the prices of meat have increased because of a shortage of animals in the market.

Mohammad Rafique said most animals are exported and, because of the shortage of animals, the prices of meat have increased.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner retired Capt Anwarul Haq said special price magistrates had been directed to ensure that shopkeepers sell edibles at prices fixed by the government. He said Rs2.5 million fines had been imposed on violators of government price list in last few months.

“We can only ensure the supply wheat flour from the mills for which the government provided the wheat flour to the mills and it is available at Rs860 per 20-kg bag. However, the private wheat flour mills are not in control of the government,” he said.

He said the sugar price was fixed and shopkeepers had to sell the commodity on three rupees extra on ex-mill rate.

“We are working to update the prices of edibles and in this regard, we are waiting the prices of wholesale market in Faisalabad and after this, we would revise the prices of edibles in the district,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 1st , 2020