Utility Stores minting money from consumers

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  • With escalation in sugar prices in the open market store officials straightforwardly refusing to sell sugar to customers

Utility Stores have become money minting ventures rather than providing relief to the masses as Utility Stores officials refused to sell subsidised sugar to buyers.

With escalation in sugar prices in the open market, complaints regarding non-availability of sugar at Utility Stores have become common. It was leant that store officials are straightforwardly refusing to sell sugar to customers.

A survey was conducted by Pakistan Today in this regard and it was learnt that sugar was being provided only to those customers who also shopped for other items from the store.

During visits to different stores, store officials said that sugar is currently the most sought after item owing to the price gap of Rs 12 to Rs 15 per kg. When inquired, the staff said that they have been directed to sell sugar only to those who buy other utility items as well. Moreover, the staff was unable to provide with any written proof of the order.

However, a store manager in Shahdara area, seeking anonymity said that high-ups have ordered them to sell Rs 60,000 to Rs 100,000 worth of utility items upon selling 100 bags of sugar. “In case of low retailing of other items we are awarded negative service record remarks,” he added.

Utility Stores Corporation (USC) was formed by the federal government in July 1971 and placed under the control of the ministry of industries, production and special initiatives. Its basic objective is to provide essential and non-essential items of daily use to the public, particularly to the poorer segments of the society at low prices compared to the open market. It was formed to provide relief to the public.

USC consumers said that USC management should improve the quality of items available at stores rather than imposing restrictions for selling. They demanded the government to improve the quality of the items being sold at the stores.

A source told Pakistan Today that B-grade commodities were being sold at utility stores, while A-grade commodities including sugar were being illegally sold to hoarders who were generating huge profits.

On the contrary, USC Zonal Manager Munir Ahmed claimed that there was neither any scarcity of sugar at the stores nor has any directive been issued to sell sugar along with other items. He said that USC aims at providing maximum relief to the consumers.

Furthermore, he stated that complaints can be made to USC officials including its regional and zonal chiefs. “Every store has a complaint lodging system through which public complaints regularly reaches the management,” he added.