KARACHI: This year, much like in the past, the non-availability of items as per various price lists issued by the Karachi commissioner has come as an added shock for consumers already reeling from the burden of sky-high inflation. As a result, many people were unable to procure essential items on the government-notified controlled rates on the first day of Ramazan.

Retailers seemed to throw caution to the wind and the rate list in the dustbin as they raised prices to levels that suited them. In instances where official rate lists were on display, shopkeepers did not hesitate to quote higher rates.

In the third week of February, the Sindh government decided to launch a massive crackdown against the profiteers and hoarders of essential items and district monitoring committees were formed to monitor and oversee price control.

However, the first day of Ramazan saw price-checking mechanisms falling by the wayside as massive price differentials were seen between official and market rates, leaving consumers to pay hefty prices.

However, retailers claimed that the government should first ensure the availability of items at the official rate and then force them to charge as per the price list.

Many consumers complained that price regulators come out with an unrealistic price list of various items in Ramazan to show sympathy for consumers, but in reality, the price list and their campaign to control profiteering have never worked.

For example, various qualities of bananas are selling for Rs200-300 per dozen as compared to the official rate of Rs153-178 per dozen, while various varieties of apples like Golden and Kullu, are selling for Rs 250-400 per kg against the official rate of Rs 143-193 per kg.

Good quality melon is Rs150 per kg as against the Rs93 per kg official rate. Just a few days ahead of Ramazan, retailers were selling melon for Rs80.

Guavas (of the Malir variety) sell for Rs200-250 per kg as against Rs113 per kg control rate.

Rates of Irani dates have been fixed at Rs403 per kg but it is not available for less than Rs700-800 per kg.

Mutton’s price hovers between Rs1,700-1,800 per kg while the commissioner’s rate is Rs1,400 per kg. Just two weeks before, retailers increased the rate by Rs200 per kg while the commissioner’s office could not take any action.

Veal beef with and without bones are selling at Rs850 and Rs1,000 per kg as against the control rate of Rs750 and Rs900 per kg. Retailers without any fear had raised veal with and without bones rates by Rs50-100 per kg a few days ahead of Ramazan.

Chicken live bird and its meat rates are tagged at Rs380-400 and Rs700 per kg while the control list carries rates of Rs368 and Rs570 per kg.

The official rate for potato and onion is Rs43 and Rs110 per kg while retailers are demanding Rs60 and Rs130-140 per kg.

The control rate of cabbage is Rs33 per kg while it is sold at Rs100-120 per kg. Capsicum (shimla mirch) is selling at Rs200 per kg as compared to Rs83 per kg while green onion’s official rate is Rs143 per kg as compared to the market rate of Rs320. spinach’s price is Rs 60-80 per kg as compared to the official rate of Rs43 per kg.

Besan made of black gram is available at Rs260-320 per kg while its official rate is Rs235 per kg.

Kalla Channa (black gram) and white gram (kabuli channa) are available at Rs220-260 and Rs400-450 per kg as against their control rate of Rs200 and Rs375. Gram pulse is available at Rs260-300 per kg while the official rate is Rs220.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2023

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