RAWALPINDI, Aug 16: As Ramazan is near the end but the long and slow-moving queues of people can still be witnessed outside utility stores as people are trying to get maximum benefit from price difference between the rates of ghee (Cooking oil), sugar and atta (Wheat flour) at the retail market and utility stores.
A 20-kg bag of wheat flour is available at utility stores for Rs400 and the same commodity is available at retailer market at Rs550-560 and in Punjab government’s Ramazan Bazaar’s, it is available at Rs440.
Similarly, sugar is available at utility stores at Rs42 per kg against Rs55 at retailer market and Rs50 at Punjab government’s Ramazan Bazaar.
Strange are the ways of the government as it had failed to check profiteering at retailer markets in the country.
And rather checking profiteering and hoarding in the country it had adopted other means to encourage these elements to play with the nerves of the masses.
The government claimed that it had provided the essential food items at subsidised rates at utility stores.
And people had no option but to develop long queues in front of utility stores in advance before the opening hours. Women, children, old people were witnessed standing in long and slow-moving queues, while bearing the vagaries of weather. The number of customers increased drastically when trucks loaded with atta and ghee arrived.
The question arises in many minds that if the government failed to stabilise the prices of essential food items at retailer markets then it had to open more and more utility stores because the recent quantity is not enough to cater to the need of the masses.
In Rawalpindi, only 90 utility stores are working and 94 utility stores are functional in Islamabad. All these stores have been set-up in downtown and the residents of far-flung areas being neglected. People especially from the salaried and working class have asked the government to stabilise the ghee and atta price at retailers’ market, saying this had further burdened them though they are already finding it hard to manage their household budgets.
Shukria Bibi, an old woman standing in the queue at Marir Hassan utility store, said that the recent surge in essential food items made people’s lives miserable and it was difficult to make both ends meet. She said that she was standing in a queue to save some rupees and the government had not been paying any heed to solve their problems.
Another woman, Zubaida Khatoon, standing in the queue at Dhoke Chiraghdin, said that she was waiting for the last 30 minutes to purchase ghee and it was very difficult for housewives to wait for many hours in long queues because she had to do more working like cooking and washing cloths.
When contacted, an official of some Utility Store, said that all the people standing in the queue came here to purchase wheat flour, sugar and cooking oil as the cooking oil here was available at Rs10, less than the market rate and wheat flour 20-kg bag is available at Rs150 less than market price.
He said that there was no shortage of ghee and atta at utility stores but there was a large gap between the demand and supply as demand was high and supply was less.