LAHORE: Chief Secretary Jawwad Rafique Malik has admitted that outdated system of auction in agricultural markets is the main reason for clear difference in prices of fruits and vegetables in various districts.

Chairing a meeting to review prices and availability of essential commodities here on Sunday, the chief secretary said the system of agricultural markets was being modernised for effective control of prices of agricultural commodities, end of the monopoly of commission agents, and encouragement of farmers.

In order to limit the role of middlemen, Mr Malik said the farmers would be given direct access to consumers. He said the ‘mandi app’ had been introduced to monitor the difference in prices of agricultural commodities, auction process, demand, supply, and to ensure uniform pricing in districts.

Discussing various options to control increase in prices of sugar and cooking oil/ghee, the chief secretary directed the administrative officers to perform their duties actively to check profiteering and hoarding.

The meeting asserted that the supply chain of essential commodities to control price-hike be regulated.

In its ongoing crackdown on profiteering and hoarding, the Punjab government in the last two months arrested 906 profiteers and got 971 cases registered against violators across the province.

The authorities also imposed fines of Rs70 million on shopkeepers for overcharging consumers.

The meeting was told that a bag of 20kg flour was available at a fixed price of Rs860 everywhere in the province.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2021

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