Nothing ‘special’ about prices this Ramazan

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Although the Punjab government has announced to give a special package to the public during Ramadan and planned bazaars in certain areas, but the plan will not give any results, as profiteers have increased prices of kitchen items, fruits and vegetables, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Hoarders would likely fleece people by around Rs 300 to 400 million only in the holy month and once again consumers would be left alone to face the powerful mafias of hoarders. Prices of sugar, ghee, oil, chicken, fruits and vegetables have started increasing constantly. Hoarders and profiteers are active in the province and started stocking kitchen items to fleece people. There has been an increase in prices of sugar in the last one week. Sugar was sold for around Rs 69 to 70 per kilogrammes around ten days ago but now it is available for Rs 75 in the market.
Market sources said that prices of sugar are expected to increase in the coming days. “Hoarders have stocked a huge amount of sugar in order to increase its price,” retailer Iqbal Ahmed said adding that this Ramadan, beverages will be consumed, therefore, sugar is being stored to earn undue profit. Price of ghee and edible oil also increased by Rs 5 to 8 per kilogrammes and it was being sold for Rs 165 to 175 per kilogrammes in the city. Prices of chicken remained very volatile and there has been a sharp increase in its price over the last two weeks. Similarly, prices of fruits and vegetables are increasing and the provincial government is helpless in controlling prices.
In vegetables, prices of most consumed items such as onions, potatoes and tomatoes are rising rapidly. There has been a sharp increase in prices of potatoes, which were being sold for Rs 20 per kilogrammes some two weeks ago but now it is available for Rs 35 to 40 per kilogrammes, tomatoes were being sold for Rs 10 per kilogrammes some three weeks ago but now it is available for Rs 50 per kilogrammes while onions were being sold for Rs 10 per kilogrammes but now it has jumped to Rs 20 per kilogrammes.
Price of basin, the most consumable item in Ramadan, has also increased by Rs 5 per kilogrammes and it is being sold for Rs 80 to 90 per kilogrammes. In fruits, all commodities have seen an upward trend. Prices of apples kept increasing and it is available for Rs 140 per kilogrammes while bananas were available for Rs 48. Both of these fruits are used in fruit chaat, a favourite dish during Ramadan.
Poultry prices are the most volatile and it is sold for Rs 215 per kilogrammes. Only three weeks ago, it was available for Rs 160 to 165 per kilogrammes. Chicken prices also touched the Rs 230 per kilogrammes mark. Poultry industry stakeholders said that the price of chicken is expected to remain above Rs 215 during Ramadan.
Consumers said that the special package of the provincial government would not benefit them, as hoarders are already active in cities and no one is bothering to nab them. They said that subsidies offered by the Punjab government for Ramadan will not benefit the general public and it will go into pockets of hoarders.
“Prices of all items are increasing ahead of Ramadan and no one is there to check hoarders,” housewife Rabia Inayat said adding that it is duty of the government to manage supplies and prices of kitchen items. She said that announcing packages for Ramadan is a good step but at the same time, hoarders should also be arrested. “Otherwise, packages will not benefit the people and only hoarders would earn money,” she added.
Banker Saeed Shah said that every year prices increase before Ramadan. “Increase in prices of daily consumable items is hallmark of Ramadan in Pakistan,” he said adding that hoarders will loot the people in the day and during evening, they will offer prayers asking God to forgive their sins.