PESHAWAR: Despite the severe heat, residents thronged to markets to buy essentials ahead of Ramazan and avoid further price hikes.
Vendors in Kuchi Bazaar, Garhi Khana, Qissa Khawani, Khyber Bazaar, Ghanta Ghar, Saddar, Hashtnagri, Firdous and Hayatabad have displayed their stalls with various commodities which are priced for maximum profit.
Bahadar Khan, a consumer, said the coming month would test the district administration’s ability to control prices. “Previously they failed to deliver during the holy month and there would be a steep rise in prices,” he added.
Although the district administration claimed checks will be made against any unlawful price increases with vendors forced to maintain proper hygiene practices, no final price list pertaining to Ramazan in particular has been issued yet.
“Today I bought a dozen bananas for Rs150,” said Rasool Shah, another customer buying essentials at a fruit market. “The vendor told me tomorrow the price will rise to Rs200 per dozen, which will make it impossible for low income customers to buy fruits during the month.”
When Peshawar Deputy Commissioner Javed Marwat was asked to comment on measures taken to control prices and quality during Ramazan, the official said a high-level meeting with tehsildars had been held on Wednesday in which instructions were issued to monitor and establish a price list for essential commodities. “There are a total of 150 utility stores in Peshawar where all essential commodities are available at subsidised rates,” he informed, adding four additional utility stores had been set up in areas that lacked these shops.
Marwat also said a total of 30 teams had been constituted which would be headed by magistrates and be responsible for routinely checking price lists and personal hygiene standards. “Customers have been advised time and again to lodge complaints with the district administration for any violations in this regard,” added the deputy commissioner.
Currently, wholesale prices for essential commodities have been set by the Grand Food Dealers Association. A 29kg bag of Kinat rice costs Rs6,900, Saila Basmati rice is priced at Rs6,400, a 5kg bag of flour costs Rs350, and 5kg of lentils are priced at Rs540.
Fruit and vegetable items, meanwhile are fluctuating in price. On Wednesday, Mangos were sold for Rs100 per kg, apples at Rs200 and watermelons at Rs40. The highest increase in vegetable prices was recorded for fresh tomatoes, which rose to between Rs100 to Rs120 per kg in comparison to last week’s prices of Rs60 to Rs70 per kg.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2013.