Fruit and vegetable prices soared in Karachi on the first day of Ramazan on Sunday, while the commissioner’s office failed to release the official price list for them.
Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah, then Sindh’s chief secretary, warned profiteers and hoarders last month that they would face up to six months’ imprisonment and other criminal action if they overcharged people for essentials during the holy month.
On Sunday, when the commissioner’s office could not release its official price list, vendors started selling fruit at exorbitant rates without any hurdles. Poor quality bananas sold at Rs150 per dozen and high quality ones at Rs180 until Saturday started selling for over Rs300 on Sunday. Similarly, guavas sold at Rs200 per kilogram have also started selling at over Rs300.
The commissioner’s office had notified the tariffs for rice, pulses, naan, samosas, pakoras and jalebi ahead of Ramazan in the last week of March. People heading to grocery stores on Sunday hoping to take advantage of affordable staple prices were largely disappointed.
Aslam Khan, while shopping at a small shop in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, discovered that Kabuli Chana (white chickpea) was being sold at a very high price. He lamented that it was difficult to find affordable products.
Ghazala Shams came out after Zohr’s prayers to buy some fruit and was shocked to learn that the bananas were being sold for Rs320 a dozen. “Just yesterday I bought them for 180 rupees,” she said, lamenting that in just one day prices had doubled, but no government official was in sight.
Commissioner Muhammad Iqbal Memon had set the tariffs for essential foodstuffs after consulting relevant associations and other stakeholders. On Sunday, he claimed his deputy commissioners had taken action against the profiteers and fined them more than 800,000 rupees.
According to a press release from the commissioner’s office, developing countries will apply prices for pulses, dates, dairy and bakery products, vegetables, spices and other essentials. The commissioner said there was a need to ensure that all edibles were available in the market at government rates.
DC, according to the press release, took action against profiteers in their respective districts on Sunday. In the Eastern District, 55 profiteers were fined, in the Southern District 51, in the Malir District 40, in the Korangi District 21 and in the Central District 17.
According to details shared by the commissioner’s office on March 29, 180 grams of tandoori naan will cost 15 rupees, 120 grams of tandoori naan will cost 12 rupees, and Afghan tandoori naan will cost 10 rupees. The price of 90 grams of chapati has been set at Rs8.
The price of the category A keema samosa of 35 grams has been set at Rs22 and that of category B at Rs18 each. The price of the samosa aloo of category A of 60 grams was set at Rs22 and that of category B at Rs18 each.
Category A mixed pakoras will cost Rs360 per kilogram and category B at Rs320. The price of category A jalebis has been set at Rs320 per kilogram and that of category B at Rs280.
The Stakeholder Meeting was attended by Additional Commissioner-II, Deputy Commissioners, Heads of Pricing Office, Representatives of Consumer Associations Kokab Iqbal, Umar Ghauri and Shakeel Baig, Chairman of Sweets & Bakers Association Sheikh Muhammad Tehseen, Dilpasand Sweets & Bakers’ Asif Ahmed, Maqsood Nasir of United Bakery, Gulzar Ahmed of Rehmat-e-Shereen and others.
In a separate meeting with wholesalers’ associations and retailers, the commissioner set the prices for rice and pulses. The margin for retailers has been set at Rs5 per kilogram. Memon said the new prices were set for one month to provide relief to people during Ramazan.
He said 90% of pulses are imported, so prices may be revised after a month depending on the value of the dollar. The meeting was attended by Chairman of Grocery Market Khajoor Bazaar Mahmood Ali Khatri, Chairman of Grocery Wholesalers Association of Karachi Abdul Rauf Ibrahim and others.