Consumers question issuance of price list as retailers flout govt orders with impunity in Karachi

Published November 7, 2023
A customer buys chicken meat from a shop in Federal B Area, where no official price list has been displayed, on Monday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
A customer buys chicken meat from a shop in Federal B Area, where no official price list has been displayed, on Monday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: District administration has failed to enforce the official prices the Karachi commissioner notified around a week ago as retailers continue to overcharge inflation-hit consumers, a market survey shows.

While the official price lists are available at the commissioner’s website and his account on X (formerly Twitter), retailers are not ready to display the official price lists at their shops, thus exposing the lack of government’s writ in implementation of retail prices of various items.

Many shopkeepers of different retail item give the impression that they do not have any idea that some kind of official price lists have been issued.

While there are almost no follow-up visits by officials to ensure the display of lists at shops, retailers are enjoying a free hand to fleece consumers.

Retailers overcharging Karachiites by violating official rate lists of flour, sugar, meat, egg and vegetables

Most consumers believe that the price regulator is not dealing with retailers of grocery items like it had dealt with the milk retailers forcing them to sell fresh milk at the official rate and also display rate of Rs200 per litre at their shops.

They criticised the government for its failure to implement its own issued official rates and questioned the purpose of issuing the price lists when no retailer was ready to follow the official prices.

Flour and sugar prices

On Nov 3, the Karachi commissioner issued the ex-mill factory rate, wholesale and retail price of flour No2.5 at Rs120, Rs123 and Rs128 per kg.

However, retailers are selling flour at Rs140 per kilo instead of the official rate of Rs128 per kg.

The new ex-mill wholesale and retail rates of fine wheat flour are fixed at Rs130, Rs133 and Rs138 per kg while the new official retail rate of chakki flour is set at Rs140 per kg.

Defying official rates, retailers are freely demanding Rs145-150 for fine atta and Rs160 for chakki flour instead of the official rates of Rs138 and Rs140 per kg, respectively.

Traders say that they are unaware as to which retailers’ body has reached an understanding with the commissioner over the fixing of retail prices.

Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA), Sindh Zone, chairman Aamir Abdullah said: “We can ask the authority to change the flour rates and issue a new notification with our consent depending on fluctuation in the wheat rates. This has been agreed with the price regulator,” he claimed.

A note in the price list of various flour varieties mentions that this rate list will be reviewed on every Friday. And if required, a new rate list would be issued; otherwise the same rates shall continue to be in place for enforcement by price magistrates throughout the seven districts of Karachi division.

On Oct 30, the commissioner had fixed wholesale and retail rates of sugar at Rs123 and Rs130 per kg, respectively. However, retailers are selling the sweetener at Rs135-140 per kg. The rate list of sugar would be revised, if required, on Nov 15 and the revised list shall be enforced from Nov 16.

The commissioner has been issuing daily rates of vegetables, but not a single retailer is following the official rates, nor do they display the price lists.

For example, the official rates of good quality onion and potato on Nov 6 were fixed at Rs101-130 and Rs75 per kg, respectively, but retailers charged Rs140-150 and Rs 90 per kg, respectively.

The retail rates of tomato hovered between Rs 300 and Rs320 per kg on Monday as against the official rate of Rs229 a kilo.

The official rates of high quality pulses, such as Mash, Moong, Masoor, and gram are fixed at Rs495, Rs242, Rs275 and Rs204 per kg, but consumers are paying Rs520-580, Rs280-320, Rs280-360 and Rs220-260 per kg.

The official prices of kernel basmati export quality, kernel basmati No1, basmati 386, kernel basmati Sela No1, Irri 6 and Irri-9 are fixed at Rs369, Rs341, Rs193, Rs286, Rs154 and Rs193 per kg as against the retail rates of Rs400, Rs370, Rs250, Rs320, Rs170 and Rs220 per kg.

Mutton, beef, chicken and eggs

On Oct 4, the official rate of mutton was fixed at Rs1,540 per kg while it is being sold at Rs1,800-2,200 per kg.

Beef boneless, beef with bones, veal (Bachhya) boneless and with bones rates were fixed at Rs795, Rs635, Rs950 and Rs800 per kg. However, currently beef meat without bones and with bones is being sold at Rs800 and Rs700 per kg, respectively, while veal meat without bones and with bones is being openly sold at inflated rates of Rs1,000-1,200 and Rs900-1,000 per kg, respectively.

Regarding chicken, the official retail rate of live broiler and its meat was fixed at Rs324 and Rs502 per kg, respectively, through a notification issued on Oct 27 by the commissioner. However, retailers are charging Rs370-390 and Rs550-650 for per kg of live bird and its meat, respectively.

The official retail rate of per dozen eggs (58 grams each) is fixed at Rs290 on Nov 3, but it is being sold at Rs335-340 per dozen in the city.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2023

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