Amid virus scare, essential items disappear from markets

Profiteers selling flour, sugar, pulses at high prices, masks and sanitisers not available

Aamir Naveed April 05, 2020

LAHORE: Masks and sanitisers have disappeared from the markets amid fears of coronavirus spread in the provincial capital.

The supply of masks and hand sanitisers has been discontinued in the market as the district administration is reportedly not allowing local manufacturers to open their factories.

Meanwhile, profiteers are selling flour, sugar and pulses at high prices.

Reportedly, wherever masks and sanitisers are available at a medical or general store, shopkeepers are selling them at high prices.

A mask that was earlier sold for Rs5 is now being sold for Rs20, while the price of  a bottle of sanitiser has increased from Rs140 to Rs600.

On the other hand, local manufacturers of masks and sanitisers are protesting against the district administration.

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Local manufacturers stated that the government has asked pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers to continue their production during the lockdown.

However, the district administration is not allowing mask and sanitiser manufacturing companies to work, due to which there is no supply in the market.

They complained that some companies have started manufacturing fake sanitisers and substandard masks to meet the market demand.

“We prepare masks and medical suits from medical grade fabric,” a local mask manufacturing company’s owner told The Express Tribune.

He maintained that after the imposition of lockdown, pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies were asked to continue their production, for which the permission of the deputy commissioner was required.

More than ten days have passed, but the deputy commissioner of Lahore has not yet given the permission to open his factory, he claimed.

“Due to this reason, we could not supply thousands of masks to the market,” he said.

Other local manufacturers said that the chief minister should take notice of the matter and take action against the officers who leave the people at the mercy of profiteers and those involved in supplying fake products.

On the other hand, prices of flour, pulses, sugar, rice and other commodities in Lahore have increased. Market sources revealed that prices of the commodities have increased as the supply has been affected. Akbari Market sources told The Express Tribune that 24,000 bags of sugar were supplied daily in Lahore.

However, there is a risk of a shortage of pulses after their import has been affected.

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As many as 225,000 kilogrammes of pulses, 180,000kg of chickpea and 120,000kg of black gram are being supplied daily in Lahore.

Prices of pulses increased as their supply dropped. Similarly, flour mill owners are supplying more than the fixed quota of flour from Punjab to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to make more profit.

This led to a shortage of flour in Lahore, which increased its prices.

In this regard, trade leaders said that the management has been made aware of the situation to keep the supply chain fully functional. However, complaints are being received that trucks carrying food products have been stopped. Trade leaders said that barriers in delivering food items must be removed to avoid shortages.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2020.


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