Ramazan prices

Published March 6, 2024

THOUGH inflation may have come down to a 16-month low, clocking in at 23.1pc, the modest gains may be wiped out by high food inflation come Ramazan. As the month of fasting approaches, prices have already begun to climb up across the nation. In particular, the cost of iftar and sehr staples — from meat to gram flour to some fruits and vegetables — has witnessed an upward trajectory in the run-up to Ramazan. There are various reasons for this, such as high demand and limited supply, high global commodity and energy prices, as well as the age-old practice of price gouging and the creation of artificial shortages by market players to make a quick buck. Moreover, Ramazan-related inflation is a global phenomenon, and not limited to Pakistan. The trick is for governments to counter high prices through targeted subsidies, as well as ensure that traders do not flout the official price lists, in order to enable families to enjoy a decent spread.

On its part, the newly installed federal government has launched a Rs7.5bn Ramazan relief package through the utility stores. Only those registered with the Benazir Income Support Programme will be able to avail discounts on Ramazan staples. On the other hand, the new Punjab government has launched a scheme to deliver food packages to people’s doorsteps for the holy month. Transparency should be ensured in these schemes so that food rations reach the neediest segments of the population, while the quality of foodstuffs should not be compromised. Aside from such schemes, local administrations will set up bachat bazars to sell discounted Ramazan staples. Here, again the quality of the food products on sale should be maintained, as in past years there have been consumer complaints of substandard items being sold. Aside from targeted schemes, the state should activate its price monitoring committees at the local level, so traders do not fleece consumers in the name of ‘shortages’. While it is true that certain items do witness high demand during Ramazan, traders also jack up the prices of other foodstuffs, citing scarcity. This profiteering needs to be checked. Moreover, many charities will arrange Ramazan ration drives. These efforts need to adhere to certain SOPs so that the dignity of the recipients is not compromised, and proper crowd control mechanisms are in place to prevent stampedes.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Miles to go
Updated 14 Jul, 2024

Miles to go

Some reforms agreed with the Fund are going to seriously impact economic growth and fresh investments, at least in the short term.
Iddat ruling
14 Jul, 2024

Iddat ruling

IT was a needless, despicable spectacle which only ended up uniting both conservatives and progressives in ...
Cricket shake-up
14 Jul, 2024

Cricket shake-up

SOMEONE had to take the blame and bear the brunt of the fallout from Pakistan’s disastrous showing at the T20 ...
Injustice undone
Updated 13 Jul, 2024

Injustice undone

The SC verdict is a stunning reversal of fortunes for a party that was, both before and after general elections, being treated as a defunct entity.
Looming flour shortage
13 Jul, 2024

Looming flour shortage

FOR once, it is hard to argue against the reason that compelled flour mills to call a nationwide strike from...
Same old script
13 Jul, 2024

Same old script

WHEN it comes to the troubling issue of enforced disappearances/ missing persons — either Baloch or belonging to...