RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD: The tandoors in Rawalpindi division and Islamabad refused to comply with a government directive which reduced the price of Roti from Rs20 to Rs16 and Naan to Rs20 from Rs25, as they continued to sell it at its previous rates.

The price of Roti was reduced by the Punjab government on Sunday without the input of the Naanbai associations whereas the Islamabad administration reduced the price on Monday with immediate effect.

Despite notifications, the price remained unchanged in almost all markets of the twin cities.

Residents in Rawalpindi said that the announcement of the government was merely a publicity stunt since the order ignored the situation on the ground. The bakers claimed that the ex-mill price of flour and a recent exorbitant hike in gas prices made it difficult for them to comply with new rates.

Association president says order can only be followed after subsidy; Pindi admin arrests two bakers, imposes hefty fines

Mohammad Rafique, a resident of Committee Chowk, said there was no reduction in the price of Naan in his area as he bought 10 Naans for Rs250. He said the government should implement the decision to bring down the prices.

Shahmir Khan, a resident of Chaudhry Bostan Khan Road, said the bakers did not accept the new rates and said they would sell the Roti and Naan at prices fixed by the local Naanbai association.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner Dr Hassan Waqar Cheema said that the new rates of Roti were notified and the order would be implemented within a day or two. He said the price magistrates had been asked to check the markets and bazaars and register cases against all those bakers who refused to accept the notified rates of Roti.

He said the price magistrates inspected 81 sites and imposed Rs105,000 fines on 28 bakers. He claimed that the district officials held a meeting with the Naanbai association in the afternoon and it was decided that new rates would be implemented on the directives of the Punjab government in letter and spirit.

Islamabad reduces price

On the other hand, the capital administration on Monday fixed the price of Roti and Naan at Rs16 and Rs20, respectively.

According to a notification issued by the office of the district magistrate, the price of a Roti weighing 120 grams each has been fixed at Rs16. Besides, the price of a Naan weighing 120 grams each has been fixed at Rs20.

However, Roti is being sold between Rs20 and Rs25 in the capital.

For instance, in G-8, it is being sold at Rs20 whereas in E-11, it is being sold at Rs25.

The notification said the new rates would remain enforced till further orders, the notification said.

It added that contravention of the order will be punishable under Section 6 and 7 of Price Control, Prevention of Profiteering and Hoarding Act 1977 and West Pakistan Food Stuffs (Control) Act 1958

After the issuance of the notification, the Secretariat assistant commissioner held a meeting with the Naanbai association and others to discuss the new price.

In June 2023, the capital administration fixed the price of Roti weighing 120 grams at Rs18, but the price of Naan remained unchanged.

Taxila tandoors fail to comply

In Taxila, a similar situation prevailed as the tandoors refused to follow the new prices.

A market survey by Dawn showed that tandoors in Taxila and Wah were selling the bread at the previous rate of Rs20.

All Pakistan Naanbai Association President Shafeeq Qureshi told Dawn that they were ready to follow the new rates if they were provided with subsidy. He said a 40-kilogramme bag of flour was available in the market for Rs1,250 while fine flour (maida) was available for Rs1,400 per 40kg.

He said the price could only be curtailed if there was a reduction in the ex-mill price.

He threatened to announce a shutter-down strike across the province if the district administration imposed a fine or arrest the Naanbais to forcefully implement the new rates through price magistrates.

“The government needs to reduce the ex-mill price of the flour before we can provide relief to the public,” said Wali Khan, Taxila’s president of the Naanbai association

“We will sell roti at Rs16 if the provincial government provides us flour at cheaper rates,” he said, adding that the new rates would cause “huge losses” to tandoor owners.

— Amjad Iqbal in Taxila also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2024

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