The incessant shortage of sugar has not only seen consistently long queues forming at the utility stores since the last few days, but has also jacked up the price of the commodity at stores where retailers have it in stock.
Inadequate supply of the essential edible in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi remains a problem, with almost all kiryana stores having run out of it.
Around 60 price magistrates and 10 assistant commissioners (ACs) of Rawalpindi have so far failed to ensure the availability of sugar at official rates.
Retailers with remaining stores of sugar have been witnessed selling it at the rate of Rs165 per kg, while the price is expected to shoot up by Rs20 per kg if normal supply is not restored in the next 24 hours.
Standing in line at a utility store, citizens including Muratib Ali, Muhammad Mudassir, and Zaibun Nisa said that sugar seems to be on the fast track to becoming a precious item rather than an essential commodity.
They asserted that before exporting sugar, abundant availability of the article should be ascertained to fulfil the local requirement on a priority basis.
Meanwhile, rates of vegetables are also swiftly going beyond the reach of the low-income socioeconomic group.
Currently, three qualities of vegetables are available in the market, all in different prices.
In Sunday markets, potatoes are being sold for up Rs120 per kg, while tomatoes and onions are sold for Rs160 and Rs80 per kg respectively. Customers were seen going from stall to stall in search of the best purchase that their pockets could allow.
The high prices of good quality vegetables were compelling buyers to leave the market with lesser quantities than their requirement.
Abdul Qayyum Nasir, Abbas Ali Ahmad, and Nawazish Ali were among the many consumers questioning the justification of increasing the prices of vegetables, saying that unlike petrol, these edibles are grown locally and their rates ought to be regulated by the government.
Meeting convened on prices
Rawalpindi Commissioner Syed Gulzar Hussain Shah convened a meeting on price control, with Deputy Commissioner Ahmed Ali and other district officials in attendance.
A comparative review of prices of different commodities was conducted in the meeting and the commissioner was informed that strict action was being taken against sugar hoarders and several wholesalers were arrested.
Industries District Officer (DO) said that imported sugar was being sold in 33 Sahulat Bazaars of Rawalpindi district and 329 metric tonnes of sugar have been sold until now.
He said the flour is also selling at official rates in the bazaars, and that 286,000 flour bags have been sold so far.
The DO claimed that the rates of potatoes, tomatoes, and onions were better in the garrison city as compared to Nowshera. He added that 799 inspections were carried out in the current month to prevent hoarding, in which 19 shopkeepers were booked and their shops were sealed. As many as 24 first information reports (FIRs) were also registered along with imposition of heavy fines.
The official reiterated that flour is also available at official rates at all utility stores and 127 DC counters have also been set up across the Rawalpindi division.
Addressing the participants, Rawalpindi Commissioner instructed the price magistrates to prevent the sale of substandard flour at any selling point.
Shah said that it should also be ensured that the retailers who were supplied sugar at Rs89 per kg are selling the commodity at Rs90 per kg.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2021.