Citizens see little utility in utility stores


*Lahoris complain about quality, quantity and prices of food items as well as limited number of stores in city

Utility stores set up by the government to provide quality food items to the common man at subsidised prices have lost their charm for the citizens who complain about the quality, quantity and prices of food items present at these stores as well as the limited number of these stores.

Talking to Pakistan Today, citizen Aslam Khan said, “The quality of oil and other items available at these utility stores is not up to the mark. Moreover, most items are usually not available.”

Earlier this year, in June, the government had provided Rs 2 billion subsidy to these utility stores but the relief provided due to the subsidy did not reach the common man. This is because many of these utility stores are located in posh areas of the city and several needy people are unable to pay for travelling to these stores.

“The utility stores are located far away from my house,” said Asghar Bukhari, adding that it is “useless to buy stuff from these stores because once travelling expenses are added, the cost of buying something from utility stores and any nearby market becomes the same”.

Per reports, residents of Awan Town, Johar Town, Mozang Road, Shadman, Allama Iqbal Town, Gulshan-e-Ravi, Samanabad and Nishtar Town are particularly affected by the small number of utility stores in these areas which are unable to meet the demands of the large population and are usually short of items.

Talking to Pakistan Today, Mozang Utility Store Manager Nisar Rana said, “Quality products are available at subsidized rates at the stores. It is our first priority to provide quality food stuff at discounted prices to the consumers.”

Contrary to the store manager’s claims, Pakistan Today has learnt that many utility stores are actually selling items at a higher price than ordinary markets whereas sugar is  not available at these stores despite being in ample supply in other markets.

Per details, the price of Daal Chana at utility stores is Rs 68 per kilogramme as compared to Rs 60 to Rs 62 in open markets. A flour bag costing Rs 750 in open markets is being sold at Rs 760 in utility stores.

Citizens are of the view that if the government wants to provide relief to the common man, it should provide subsidy to utility stores all year round and also open more utility stores to cater to large population.