Ramazan, price hike and profits

 The government has failed to control the artificial price hike for the holy season of Ramazan 

Pakistan's working class, low income groups lower middle class experience a tsunami of price hike during the holy month of Ramazan. The prices of fruits, vegetables and other edible items increased 50% to 100% during Ramazan to maximize the profits.  The people might be finding a tough time this Ramadan amid rising prices of products.

According to data issued by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the food inflation rate in February, on year-on-year basis, rose to 47 per cent in rural areas, whereas in urban areas it was recorded at 41.9 percent. The CPI inflation is nearly 31.5%. The artificial price hike during Ramazan will further hike the inflation.

The big investors, traders and middle man take advantage of the increased demand of fruits, cooking oil and other food items during fast season. They hoard and stock fruits and food items before the Ramazan and manipulate the prices through the market. They cut supply to the market to create artificial shortage in order to increase prices.

This manipulation of market takes place during Ramazan every year. The government failed to protect the consumers from the exploitation. The government has simply lost control over the prices and leaves it to the blind forces of free market. Instead of controlling the prices of fruits, vegetables and other food items in the open market, the government has announced to supply free wheat flour to the poorest of the sections of the population. The people are waiting hours in queues to get one bag of wheat floor. Some people have lost lives while scores injured in the attempts to get the free bags of floor. 


 The prices of fruits have witnessed the increase of 30% to 70% in last few days. The prices of vegetables have also been increased. It is really hurting the low income people badly. It is impossibly difficult for ordinary people to buy fruits and other food items to break the fast in the evening.

The big business, traders and investors are making billions of rupees extra profits. For them, their profits are more important than the human needs. They are exploiting the situation to earn super profits. They buy cheap items, stored them and later sell them on higher profits. The government is failing to check this manipulation of the market.

All responsibility lies on the government to ensure the availability of edible items at cheaper rates not only throughout the year but especially in the holy month. As the government is more occupied in political and economic chaos besides pinning hopes on approval of the International Monetary Fund loan (IMF), it is hard to expect any special measures that could bring any impressive price relief.

 While consumers have witnessed a price spiral in the last year, the government is not in a position to offer any huge subsidies or duty/taxes relaxations to lower prices. Any efforts to curtail prices by lowering taxes and duties may irk the IMF ahead of loan approval.

The government has hardly moved in taking any serious notice of the frequent price hike in food items, thus giving a free hand to the manufacturers and market players to jack up prices at their whims.

                                                                      The Editorial Board


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