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Weekly bazaars: prices on a downward spiral

July 30, 2012

ISLAMABAD, July 29: As anticipated by officials, prices of essential items have started showing signs of decline from the second week of Ramazan and that is mainly because the buying frenzy has eased.

The Sasta Bazaars organised by the administration in Islamabad and Rawalpindi offer items even cheaper than the weekly bazaars organised by Capital Development Authority (CDA).

“We are trying our best to maintain the quality and keep the prices at very reasonable rates,” said an official of Islamabad administration, adding, “this is an annual feature but still people rush heavily in the first few days causing the markets to inflate.”

Though the most sought after food items are abundantly available in the twin cities not only in the retail markets and weekly bazaars but also at the Sasta Bazaars, which are open to customers daily — but the rush-buying witnessed in the first few days is beyond explanation.

The prices have significantly declined on Sunday, 9th day of Ramazan, as tomato prices are down by Rs14 per kilogram to Rs34 at the weekly bazaars, and further down to Rs30 at Sasta Bazaars, while grapes are Rs165 at Sasta Bazaars were available at Rs200 at the weekly bazaars but it was Rs230 at a weekly bazaar, last week.

Apart from potatoes and onions, the prices of almost all items have declined in one week. Even the price of live chicken is down by Rs18 to Rs147, at weekly bazaars and the saving margin is even higher at Sasta Bazaars.

The officials said that few items are costly due to off-season or low yield but many things start moving up simply due to increased demand.

“If people do not throng to bazaars 2-3 days before the start of Ramazan up to 4-5 days after the start of the month — the market players will not have a chance to jack up prices,” said a CDA official at the Peshawar Mor Sunday bazaar.

Talking to Dawn, customers at Sasta Bazaars and the Peshawar Mor weekly bazaar, expressed pleasure that the prices were down but could not give a clear answer about reasons for gate crashing at the start of the ‘month of fasting’.

“Maybe there is an environment to stock all things when Ramazan starts,” said a senior citizen — an old time resident of Islamabad, “Maybe because we are still used to the times when limited things were available and everything was not available, all the time.”

Another woman, a housewife and resident of Rawalpindi had the traditional notion of blaming the government and the authorities for everything.

“Those in power have failed to make sure that if prices do not come down, should not increase in Ramazan,” she said adding, “How are prices coming down now?”

Again over the question of buyers mad-rush at the start of the month she said, “What is the system giving us? We do not have electricity, there are issues with everything,” she added, “So when our men come home after a day of hard work during the ‘fast’, we cannot give them a proper Iftari — what is the use of life then?

It seems that as long as the masses — purchasers do not change their consumption pattern and buying attitude, the market forces would continue to exploit the situation.