Consumers suffer at the hands of profiteers who loot them with both hands in the holy month
Helpless consumers in this multi-ethnic commercial hub of the country wonder what change Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has brought as the profiteers are once again out to fleece them at will during this holy month of Ramazan.
Needless to say the “corrupt” city administration already has failed to establish its writ in terms of price control.
The district and divisional administration whereas claims to have fined and arrested hundreds of retailers and hoarders in its ongoing “operation” against profiteering, the latter feel free to price their products at rates far higher than official ones.
The per kilogram price of mutton ranges from Rs 580 to Rs 700 in the city, making mockery of the commissioner’s office which wants the butchers to sell the essential kitchen item at Rs 550. Beef, boneless and with bones, is being sold at Rs 420 and Rs 360 against the official rate of Rs 320 and Rs 280, respectively.
The masses are compelled to buy one kilogram of essential vegetables like potato, onion and tomato at Rs 70, 50 and 50 as against official rates of Rs 57, 40 and 29.
Popular fruits like mango, watermelon, banana and apple stand out of the commoners’ reach with their respective rates ranging between Rs 80 to Rs 130, Rs 40 to Rs 50, Rs 70 to Rs 150 and Rs 250.
Same is the case with Sehri and Iftar items like Khajla, Pheni, Pakoras and Samosas that the government wants to be retailed at Rs 200-500 (per kg), 200-500 (per kg), 180-220 (per kg) and 120-144 (a dozen).
Depending on the area, a kilogram of chicken is costing a buyer from Rs 240 to Rs 260.
“You come to the market and suddenly goes out of budget,” said Intekhab Saeed, a retired businessman from Defence. Blaming hoarders for price hike, the old man blasted the PML-N ruled federal and PPP ruled provincial governments as “inefficient”.
Amjad Khan, an electrician who earns Rs 15,000 a month to support his expanded family in the impoverished Keamari neighbourhood, wonders what special PM Nawaz Sharif had done that could make him feel the difference in terms of inflation during Ramazan. “What change he has made? Prices of daily use items are still sky high,” the 30-year-old asked.
With buyers being the ultimate sufferers, a few of the retailers, doing business in the city’s impoverished and posh neighbourhoods, were seen having displayed the government rates list at their shops.
Ask why and the visibly irritated retailers would point a finger at what they allege “corrupt” government officials who are more interested in taking bribes than protecting consumer rights during and even before this holy month of fasting.
“Whether or not we comply with the government rates we have to pay the fine,” said Tayyab, a meat seller at Defence Phase II. Claiming to have paid Rs 5,000 “penalty” in last Ramazan, the retailer is sure “Sahb Log” would come again this time to fine him.
On the other hand, Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui Tuesday said at least 41 shopkeepers were sent behind the bars and 255 others were penalised accumulatively with Rs 0.5 million in the city government’s crackdown against profiteering and selling substandard daily-use items.
Those fined or arrested were retailing fresh milk, wheat flour (atta), fruits and vegetables, meat, pulses and other kitchen items at rates higher than government’s.
Profiteering, the commissioner said, was rampant across the city with Saddar, Civil Line, Garden, Site, Baldia, Feroz Abad, Jamshed Quarters, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Gulzar Hijri, Liaquatabad, Nazimabad, North Nazimabad, Orangi, Baldia, Bin Qasim, Ibrahim Haideri, New Karachi, Landhi, Korangi and Model Colony.
Those booked in the clampdown, Siddiqui said, included 40 retailers of fresh milk, one atta, eight meat, 43 chicken, 96 vegetable, 61 fruit and six other food items. “At least 41 have been sent behind the bars for their repeated violations,” the commissioner added.
He said special teams of government officials had been deputed to check hoarding at time of auction at the city’s main wholesale fruits and vegetable market.
“This is reflecting well on the prices of vegetables,” the commissioner said.
Vowing to keep chasing the unscrupulous profiteers till end, Siddiqui said no profiteer would be allowed to rob the masses and would be made sell his merchandise at the government-fixed prices.
The retailers, however, do not tend to buy this rhetoric. Almost every vendor and shopkeeper this reporter interviewed claimed that the government’s rates were not compatible to those prevailing in the wholesale market and that if implemented would make them insolvent.
“Selling things at government prices would render us broke. We would have to lock our shops down,” said Javed Akhtar, a meat seller at Jackson Market of Keamari.
Muhammad Minhas, a vegetable retailer in the posh neighborhood of Defence Phase II, suspects that the government price control officers were fixing the retail prices of daily-use kitchen items without carrying out proper market research.
“You visit the wholesale market and would know the ground realities,” said 32-year-old Minhas, who hails from Raiwand, a political stronghold of PM Sharif.
ramazan – profiteering before hungry awaam …is this islam ? musilman robbing musilman !! pakistanis becoming NAAPAKIS.. UNBELIEVABLE ..
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