LAHORE: Sky-rocketing prices of vegetables, fruits and several commodities have hit the common man adversely, without any effective check by the administration in the absence of full-time price magistrates.
“We are facing worst inflation these days, which has made life difficult. Frankly speaking, I am left with no money after 15th of every month and I have to borrow money from friends and relatives to run my home for the rest of he month, ” says Qasim, while talking to Dawn at Johar Town Sunday Bazaar. “Though the Sunday Bazaar prices are relatively lower than the open market, these too have gone beyond our reach. But the political parties (PML-N, PPP, PTI etc) are fighting with each other for power,” he deplored.
Shehzad, another shopper laments that the prices of vegetables, fruits, flour, sugar, rice etc continue rising on a daily basis and it seems there is no one to check those involved in increasing prices artificially through hoarding, overcharging and other corrupt practices.
“The price of wheat flour, especially Chakki Atta, was Rs75 per kilogram about a year ago.
But now it is not available for Rs165 per kilo,” he lamented.
Maqsood, a customer, complained about quality of the vegetables, fruits and meat available in Sunday and model bazaars. According to him, though the meat (beef and mutton) is available at lower rates in these markets, its quality is usually poor. “Last Sunday, after a long time, I bought mutton. But it couldn’t be cooked well even in a pressure cooker. Later, I came to know from someone that the mutton was of an old animal,” he regretted, requesting the authorities concerned to also ensure quality of the items put on sale in such markets.
The situation is worse in the open market, where shopkeepers continue overcharging the customers, ignoring the official price lists. “The potato is being sold for Rs40 per kilogram in Sunday bazaars, but shopkeepers are charging Rs60 per kg in the open market. Similarly, other items, including onion, ginger, garlic, tomato and vegetables and fruits are also being sold at 30- 40 percent higher rates than the Sunday bazaars,” complained, Iftikhar, a shopper.
He also complained about massive rise in prices of pulses, chicken meat, eggs etc.
Lahore Market Committee Secretary Shehzad Cheema says the open market has almost gone out of control due to various reasons. “In a city of 12.5 million people, we have only 50 to 60 officers who have been delegated powers of price control magistrates. They, besides their doing their own duty, have to also visit the open market and impose fines on the shopkeepers involved in flouting the price lists. But, they seem unable to fully concentrate on controlling prices due to other assignments,” he explained. “Therefore, the government should appoint regular magistrates to control the prices. “In addition to my actual job, I also work as price control magistrate. But, I cannot fully focus on this assignment,” he argued.
To a question, Mr Cheema said since most pulses are imported, their prices are linked with the dollar exchange rate against the rupee. Similarly, some vegetables (ginger etc) are also imported. The chicken feed price is also dependent on the dollar rate because of its imported ingredients, that leads to increased price of chicken meat. “But despite odds, we are trying hard to control prices,” he maintained.
Meanwhile, Sunday bazaars attracted a large number of people on their weekly holiday.
Most of the shopper were buying vegetable and grocery in bulk, apprehending another wave of price hike with the start of the holy month of Ramazan.
Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2023
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