Vegetable prices skyrocket as govt looks on

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LAHORE: Tomato prices in local markets of the city have shot up to Rs220-250 per kg while prices of other vegetables have also increased considerably.

According to official rates as of Wednesday, the price of tomatoes was Rs180 per kg but its price has touched Rs250 in retail markets. Similarly, onions were being sold at Rs120 per kg in markets while its official price was Rs80 per kg.

Prices of capsicum have also skyrocketed over the past few days as it is being sold at Rs300 per kg whereas the government rate of capsicum is Rs225 per kg.

Similarly, the price of green chili has also increased to Rs300 per kg in open markets whereas its official rate was Rs148 per kg.

Shamim Akhtar, a housewife from Gulshan-e-Ravi complained, “On one end people are losing their jobs owing to the sad state of the economy and on the other end prices of essential commodities is increasing by the day, which is causing us huge trouble. It seems that the government has no check over the markets.”

“Prices of vegetables have gone so high that you have to think twice before buying them. Price control committees have proven worthless and inefficient: they are just doing formal work by checking the price lists but have no real control over shopkeepers who have increased the prices,” said a person buying groceries in Gulberg.

“The new crop of tomato from Sindh will come in the market within a month and the price will come down again. The price hike has also affected the sale of tomatoes because those who were purchasing 1 or 2kg tomatoes are now buying the only 250 to 500 grams,” said a vegetable seller from Gulberg.

“The poor are having to bear the brunt of the rising prices. My family has been eating plain rice and roti for the past couple of weeks because I can’t afford to buy vegetables,” said Muhammad Saleem, a worker at a general store.

“I have been forced to cut down on my monthly expenses in order to be able to sustain my household; the increase prices is affecting me more than I could have imagined,” said Muhammad Ashfaq, a resident of Gulberg.

The Lahore deputy commissioner, however, has issued an advisory for big departmental stores. A letter issued on Wednesday in this regard states, “It has been decided that deputy commissioner counters of fruits and vegetables at big/mega/departmental/multinational stores will be abolished. All items of fruit and vegetables will be sold at the government notified prices/ rates across the board. Poor quality of Fruit and Vegetable or violation of notified rates/prices will invite punitive action against the owner/management of the store concerned.”

On the other hand, the Aata Chakki Owners Association has also gone on strike and has closed several shops in various parts of the city saying that it was unreasonable of the government to demand that (association members) they sell wheat at Rs42 per kg after having purchased it at Rs50 per kg.

Liaqat Ali Malik, president of the association said, “We are not willing to bear financial losses because of the district government’s ill-thought-out policies. We call on the government to take its decision back.”