In the absence of an updated official price list for essential household commodities, shopkeepers in Peshawar are acting arbitrarily and charging customers their own rates during Ramazan.
The last official price list for edible items was issued by the district government in February. During the last five months, prices of various commodities have increased manifold, no longer corresponding with the list issued earlier.
According to the government price list, the price of high quality rice was fixed at Rs134 per kilogramme (kg). However, the retail price fixed by vendors stands at Rs150 per kg.
The list price for basmati rice is Rs122 per kg, however, in the open market the item is being sold for Rs150 per kg. Interestingly, while the price of high quality white gram is fixed at Rs100, its price in the open market has decreased and is being sold for Rs80 per kg.
The price of high quality red china beans is fixed at Rs132 per kg, but retailers sell it for Rs150 per kg.
Similarly, the prices of high quality lentils is fixed at Rs88 per kg, daal moong at Rs84 per kg, daal moong (washed) at Rs90 per kg, moong sabz at Rs90 and gram flour at Rs106 per kg, but the items are being sold for Rs150, Rs100, Rs90, Rs130, Rs120 per kg, respectively.
“The price list issued by the government is outdated. We only display it to avoid being fined during raids by district administration officials,” said a retailer, Ateeq Awan. He complained the prices of commodities had increased at the wholesale level, but the government still sticks to a six-month-old list and forces retailers to abide by it which is “unjust and results in losses.”
When contacted, Deputy Commissioner Office Spokesperson Feroz Shah said a meeting of the district price review committee has been arranged and a revised price list will be issued soon following consultations with wholesale dealers.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2013.