Lahore is witnessing an alarming increase in the prices of basic necessities, particularly vegetables. The absence of a vigilant and efficient price control policy has led to persistent rise in prices, and surveys of the model bazaars and marketplaces reveal that local vendors are raising the prices of nearly all the seasonal vegetables, with the involvement of market committee officials.
Vegetable Prices Rise Alarmingly
Prices of vegetables have witnessed an unprecedented rise in all the marketplaces across Lahore. Tomatoes, one of the most important food staples in the Pakistani cuisine, are presently being sold at the rate of Rs300-350 per Kg, while the government has allocated the price of tomatoes at Rs200-210 per kg, and Rs190-200 at Sunday bazaars.
Pakistan has a tomato problem. Shortage of tomatoes has meant that it is being sold in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi for as high as Rs 320 per kg. It seems that in Imran Khan’s Pakistan, tomatoes have won the battle against the rising dollar. pic.twitter.com/aiuMmWDnAz
— Sifa (@_sifa_k) November 15, 2019
Onions, another essential ingredient, are being sold for over Rs130 per kg across retail markets, while the government has set its price between Rs64 and Rs76 per kg. Moreover, multiple citizens have come forward to complain that local vendors are selling mixed variations of onions at Sunday bazaars, and they continue to charge the price allocated for the sorted variety.
Media reports every day have stories highlighting complaints of housewives and other citizens over the unstable economic situation, as many people have lost their jobs and are facing a reduction in their income. Grievances of the citizens are piling up and the artificial hike in price needs to be curbed by establishing strict measures to regulate the prices imposed by greengrocers and traders.
Finance Adviser Hafeez Shaikh claims tomatoes are being sold at Rs17/kg in Karachi's Sabzi Mandi. This is the guy running the country's economic affairs.
Rates in LAHORE
— Asad Qaiser (@AsadQaisarPTI) November 12, 2019
Prices of seasonal vegetables have risen alarmingly high, so much so that people have to think twice before compiling their grocery lists. People in Lahore are increasingly disappointed by the price control system introduced by the district government. The prevailing belief amongst citizens is that the officials have no authority to undermine shopkeepers and traders who are responsible for the artificial price hike.
Punjab Govt’s Measures
Reports reveal that an official of the Punjab agriculture department stated that the new tomato crop will arrive next month from Sindh, which will aid in reducing the prices of tomatoes. He stated that the prices have increased due to the limited supply of tomatoes in the market.
The Lahore Deputy Commissioner has ordered all major departmental stores to reduce the prices for fruits and vegetables in line with the prices issued by the government.
The district administration revealed its decision to close down the deputy commissioner’s counter across all departmental stores and enforce the notified prices across all stores and retail outlets. The deputy commissioner’s office also issued a stern warning to all department stores regarding their failure to comply with the notified prices or provide customers with low-quality vegetables and fruits.
Mega Stores of Lahore have abolished their DC Counters of Fruits and Vegetables & started selling fruits & vegetables on Govt notified rates. Store Administration is committed to cooperate with District Admin as far as prices of essential commodities are concerned. @GOPunjabPK pic.twitter.com/4VFZidxD2r
— Deputy Commissioner Lahore (@DCLahore) November 15, 2019
Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar also took notice of the artificial price hike in various cities across Punjab, and ordered the Price Control Task Force to take immediate measures to normalize the prices of food essentials, particularly seasonal vegetables and fruits.
Chief Minister Punjab also ordered the authorities to establish a provincial price control authority, which will be established on the structure of the Punjab Food Authority (PFA). CM Usman Buzdar has directed the relevant authorities to devise an efficient mechanism to drive down inflation, while the district administration has been directed to strictly monitor the prices of basic commodities.
Usman Buzdar asks the team to take strict action against the artificial price hike. The price hike orchestrated by hoarding the consumables. Punjab govt needs to take strict actions against hoarders#Pakistan #Punjab #UsmanBuzdar #ArtificialPriceHike #Newshttps://t.co/c5k0x7wxE7
— Global Village Space (@GVS_News) November 13, 2019
He has also directed the price control magistrates to efficiently perform their duties, and ensure that the rate lists are displayed on locations where they are easily spotted by customers. The Chief Minister has ordered the elimination of middlemen from agricultural marketplaces to reduce the culture of profiteering.
The government of Punjab had previously announced its decision to set up farmers markets at a district level, alongside providing a home delivery service for fruits and vegetables across five big cities, including Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, and Multan.