Pakistan:Prices go up in the wake of Ramazan

With only about 10 days left till Ramazan, the prices of several daily-use items have suddenly gone up in markets across the city, adding to the problems of citizens, while the provincial government has failed to come up with a concrete plan to properly utilise the Rs two billion Ramazan package announced in the Punjab Budget 2010-11,reported “Kazakh-Zerno” IA with reference to the “Daily Times“.  

The prices of the most commonly used vegetables, which include tomato, onion and potato have gone up considerably during the last week. The price of tomatoes has increased from Rs 60 to 90 per kilogramme, onion from 20 to 35, potato from 35 to 50 per kg while green peas from Rs 90 to 120, and ladyfinger from Rs 45 to 60 per kg.

“The prices of dry milk of various brands had increased a month ago, and surprisingly they have gone up once again during the last week,” Kamran Afzal, a retailer, told Daily Times. He said that the price of a one-kg pack of Nido has been increased from Rs 390 to 400 and that of a 50-grammes pack from Rs 45 to 50, while the price of a 400-gm pack of Everyday has gone up from Rs 160 to 180. 

The price of sugar has, however, remained stable in the city during the last week after the easy availability of the commodity due to the import of 47,700 tonnes of sugar. On Saturday, the price of sugar at utility stores was Rs 55 and in the open market, it was Rs 70 per kg. The price of a 50-kg bag of sugar remained stable – around Rs 3,450. 

During Ramazan, prices of the traditional ‘Jam-e-Shireen’ drink and gram flour – besan – also increases. The price of gram flour during the previous Ramazan was Rs 62 per kg while a 800-millilitre Jam-e-Shireen bottle was being sold at Rs 120 and a 1,500-ml bottle at Rs 210, in the retail market. 

Bashiran Begum, a housewife, said it has become difficult for her to run the household due to a sudden increase in the prices of vegetables and other items. “I am worried about kitchen management during the holy month of Ramazan. The government is only busy in politics and they pay no heed to our problems,” she remarked.

Rains: When asked about the price-hike, Punjab government spokesman Senator Pervaiz Rasheed blamed the recent rains and floods for the increase in the prices of vegetables, which in turn had disturbed the demand and supply system in the market. 

He said that two factors were responsible for this sudden increase in prices. “Firstly, a lot of vegetables rotted or were wasted due to rains, and secondly, the transportation of commodities was also affected due to the bad weather,” Rasheed said. 

When asked if the increase in prices was somehow related to the advent of Ramazan, Rasheed said, “This factor would come into play only two or three days prior to Ramazan.” 

In order to stop that increase in prices prior to Ramazan, he said, the provincial government was deputing thousands of price-control magistrates across the province at the town levels, in order to control prices of all commodities, in all markets across the province.

When asked about the utilisation of a Rs two billion Ramazan package, the spokesman said that the provincial government has decided to give “special subsidy” on flour and sugar during Ramazan. He said that a 20-kg flour bag, costing around Rs 600, would be provided at Rs 400 at utility stores with a Rs 200 subsidy, and for Rs 425 at retail shops with a Rs 175 subsidy. 

Regarding sugar prices, Rasheed avoided giving any exact figures, however, according to sources, the price of sugar would remain at Rs 55 at utility stores, as fixed by the federal government. The sources added that the provincial government would try to lower sugar prices by Rs 10 in the retail market from the existing price of Rs 70 per kg.

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