KARACHI: In a move to counter growing criticism on the provincial administration for failing to implement official price list and keep a check on profiteering, the Sindh government has set up more than 80 Bachat bazaars across the province with 27 of them in Karachi alone for Ramazan, offering grocery and household items at discounted rates.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah this time took a step forward and appointed his cabinet members, close aides and key members of the Pakistan Peoples Party government to monitor each bazaar on a daily basis to ensure smooth availability of all supplies at discounted rates and their hassle-free availability to people visiting these facilities.

A notification issued by the Chief Minister’s Secretariat stated that Bachat bazaar have been established in 30 districts of Sindh.

The CM, the notification states, nominated provincial ministers, special assistants to chief minister, advisers and PPP members of the Sindh Assembly as focal persons for each facility, who would look after their smooth operation and ensure transparency.

Murad nominates ministers, advisers, party leaders as his focal persons to monitor bazaars

The fresh move from the government came a few days after the Sindh governor promulgated an ordinance to implement the official price control mechanism. Under the ordinance, the provincial government granted over 100 section officers (SOs) of different departments magisterial powers to take action against profiteering and hoarding in Karachi during Ramazan.

The decision to amend the anti-profiteering and anti-hoarding law was taken as the reports of overcharging consumers for essential commodities, especially edible items, flooded the social and mass media.

However, things haven’t changed much on ground despite government’s effort to keep a check through the ordinance, pushing the provincial administration for another attempt through Bachat bazaar.

“These facilities are offering almost all commodities at much cheaper prices,” CM’s aide and PPP-Sindh general secretary Senator Waqar Mehdi told Dawn.

Senator Mehdi, who’s been assigned to look after a bazaar in district south, said: “The administration of each district took major supermarkets and superstore chains on board to set up these bazaars. We invited major brands like Imtiaz Super Market, HyperStar and others who are here offering all things at pre-tax rate. For instance, here, a bottle of Rooh Afza is being sold at Rs50 lesser than the retail, and Qarshi is tagged at Rs30 lesser.”

Calling it a beginning, he was hopeful that the number of such facilities would increase within the next few days with aim to provide maximum relief to people during the holy month.

The highest number of Bachat bazaars have been set up in district Central where five places — North Nazimabad, Nazimabad, Gulberg, Liaquatabad and New Karachi — were marked for such facilitates.

In district Malir, East, Korangi and Keamari, four bazaars each have been set up, followed by three each in South and West districts.

Senator Mehdi said that the chief minister had issued directives for each focal person to personally monitor the operations of these bazaars and spend maximum time of the day at these facilities during whole Ramazan.

“In the next phase we are increasing the number of stalls of flour, vegetables and fruits at each bazaar,” he said.

“Unlike other items, these items are more in demand and only a stall or two cannot cater to the demand. So, hopefully, we would be able to make it more convenient for people within a next few days,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2023

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