Govt fails to control profiteering, sale of substandard edibles in Ramzan


–Officials say admin making untiring efforts to maintain quality, lower rates


LAHORE: The provincial administration and the city district government have left the people at the mercy of profiteers selling substandard food items in the open market during the holy month of Ramzan, Pakistan Today has observed.

Ahead of the holy month, the provincial government had directed the district price control committee to fix the prices of daily use items and necessary food items including pulses, grains, meat and bread. Though the market committee formed by the city district government is issuing grocery prices on a daily basis to the shopkeepers, the price list is hardly being followed.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, citizens complained that prices of edibles in the open market were way higher in Ramzan. They said that even though the rates were a bit lower in government’s subsidised Ramzan bazaars, but the food items available there were substandard. “There isn’t much difference between the prices of edibles in the Ramzan bazaars and the open market,” they said and added that the shopkeepers, vendors and stallholders in the Ramzan bazaars also deliberately handed over low-quality fruits and other edibles to the customers.

The people also alleged that the government was not serious in providing relief to the masses and only cosmetic measures were being taken.

Muhammad Imtiaz, a resident of Mozang alleged that the government had given a free hand to the vendors, stallholders and shopkeepers.  “The government has no mechanism to keep a check on the prices of daily use items. Shopkeepers and vendors are charging us what they feel like while price magistrates are nowhere to be found,” he said.

Humayun Shahzad, a motorcycle mechanic from Shadman said that there wasn’t any difference between the prices in Ramzan bazaars and the open market since many items were being sold at the same rate.  “Potatoes are available for 22 rupees in the open market while its price in the so-called subsidised bazaars is 20 rupees. Similarly, onions are available for Rs24 in the open market while it is being sold for Rs22 in the Ramzan bazaars. I don’t believe it to be a relief, in fact, one has to face unnecessary hassle while finding a parking space in these bazaars and passing through several security checks,” he added.

It may be noted that the Punjab government has directed the city district administration to ensure the provision of quality food items during Ramzan and bring down the rates in the open markets. The government has set up 31 Ramzan bazaars in the city to facilitate the people and claimed to have appointed price inspectors to keep a check on the prices, but the overall situation has remained hard for the consumers as of yet.

Lahore DCO Sameer Ahmed Saeed could not be reached for a comment, however, a city government official said the administration was making untiring efforts to maintain quality, quantity and prices under official control. According to him, at least 100 shopkeepers had been fined and their stock had been confiscated for selling edibles at higher prices.