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Prices not in control of interim set-up too

April 15, 2013

LAHORE, April 14: The caretaker set-up has failed to control the prices of essential commodities in markets.

As massive transfers and postings are order of the day for transparent elections, consumers have been left at the mercy of shopkeepers as there is no official check on over-pricing and overcharging in city markets, Dawn has learnt.

Soon after the installation of the caretaker government in March, price control magistrates reportedly stopped visiting markets and Sunday bazaars as they have been assigned election-related tasks, said an official. They also limited their visits viewing their expected transfer causing an increase in the prices of commodities, the official seeking anonymity said.

Customers, however, said the situation in terms of price control was also not ideal in the previous government.

Shakil Ahmad, a customer at a Lahore market, urged the government to pay attention to price control through fielding teams to markets and Sunday bazaars.

The official mentioned the prices of mutton and beef being at sold at Rs700 and Rs400 per kilogramme at present against the official prices of Rs400 and Rs200 per kg in city markets. He said the prices of vegetables, fruits, pulses, rice and other essential commodities had almost increased up to 50 per cent or so.

Shakeel said he never succeeded to buy the meat at official prices even during the Shahbaz regime.

This reporter visited a Sunday bazaar at Moon Market, Iqbal Town, and found vegetables and fruits being sold at inflated rates.

Vendor Akram said the shortage of vegetables and fruits in wholesale markets had shot up the prices.

“Commission agents have stocked fruits and vegetables in cold storages in order to earn more profits,” he said.

“Moreover, farmers growing non-seasonal vegetables through tunnel farming also supply these items to wholesale markets at higher rates, putting the entire financial burden at the customers finally,” he added.

He said the government could bring down the prices, if it regulated the role of commission mafia in markets.

Talking to Dawn DCO Rizwan Mahboob rejected the reports of increase in commodities’ prices.

“Since assuming the charge of the Lahore DCO office, I am paying special attention towards this issue by monitoring price control magistrates. They (magistrates) are visiting open markets as well as Sunday bazaars on regular basis and they are imposing heavy fine on those selling the commodities on higher rates in violation of the price lists prepared by the CDGL,” he said.

He said the CDGL would soon review the existing price lists and issue the new ones for open markets and Sunday bazaars’ vendors.