It goes without saying that those who benefited from the commissionerate system are less than happy when it was removed.
While some welcomed it, others cursed their luck when the local government system 2001 was revived. Apart from former nazims and councillors, the business community is among those who are glad to see the commissioners go. Now there is nobody to keep an eye on them and make sure that basic necessities are being sold at fixed prices.
Assistant commissioners and sub-divisional magistrates began using judicial powers and imposing fines on hoarders and profiteers. In an attempt to avoid inflation in Ramazan in particular, market committees began fixing the prices of daily commodities and the district administration made sure the rules were observed. During a survey of the market, The Express Tribune found that, though the market committee rate list is being issued every day, shopkeepers are not keeping to the prices listed. A butcher, Abdul Latif, was selling mutton for Rs480 per kilogramme instead of Rs440. When asked about this irregularity, he shrugged, “how can I sell meat at low rates after buying such costly animals? Most of the goats are smuggled out of the country and the rest are expensive, we have to sell meat at higher prices to avoid a loss.”
Similarly, all fruit and vegetable vendors were pricing their wares as they wished. Nazir Ahmed, a fruit vendor, had his justification ready. “When we are buying apples for Rs100 per kilogramme, how it is possible to sell it for Rs80 per kilogramme?”
The Sukkur market committee secretary, Nisar Ahmed Odho, told The Express Tribune that there is nobody to check on the sellers. “Now let’s see who the government assigns to check prices,” he added.
When asked which system was better, Nazir said the local government system won hands down. According to him, the officers in the commissionerate system used to visit the market now and then and create panic among the shopkeepers. Another fruit vendor, Haji Karim, felt that the government should go after the “big fish” first and then come to the vendors. “Everything is wonderful in Pakistan,” was his sarcastic assessment of the two systems.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2011.
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