Welcome Ramazan package

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AS the holy month of Ramazan is fast approaching and there are genuine apprehensions of both artificial and market driven price-hike, government has done well by earmarking Rs 1.602b as Ramazan Relief Package. Approved by the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet on Tuesday, the package envisages subsidies on 19 commodities to provide relief to the general public during the holy month through Utility Stores outlets. It is all the more satisfying that apart from relief envisaged in the package, the USC would reduce prices on over 2,400 other items under different brands from 5% to 10% by obtaining special discount from vendors and suppliers and reducing its own profit margins.
Government deserves appreciation that it allocated Rs 1.6b to mitigate negative impact of Ramazan-related price-hike that has become an unfortunate trend in the country for many decades. The subsidy would be offered on all important and essential items of daily use, the consumption of which increases during Ramazan and therefore, it would be a major source of relief especially for under-privileged segments of the society. Similarly, if the USC can negotiate price reduction with suppliers and bring down its own profit margin for the sake of people then why not other companies and retail stores. If manufacturers, companies and suppliers voluntarily reduce prices of their items between five to ten percent and the wholesale dealers pass on the relief to retailers entire population of the country could benefit immensely. But it is regrettable that most of the businessmen and shopkeepers increase prices of various items especially foodstuff, fruit and vegetables significantly with the onset of the holy month, depriving ordinary citizen of the opportunity to save something for his family for the Eid festival besides creating difficulties for him during Ramazan. It is all the more unfortunate that there is price control mechanism but it has not been able to deliver for various reasons mainly because of lack of will, sincerity and determination on part of those responsible for oversight and monitoring. Government has allocated huge money and the USC would be reducing prices but the due relief would be denied if there were no checks on artificial price-hike.