CCP’s panacea for price-hike

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AS masses are groaning under the unbearable burden of both genuine as well as artificial price-hike, the Compe
tition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has come out with tangible recommendations to improve the situation and provide relief to the people. Pointing out that existing provincial price control laws lack effectiveness, it has proposed the provinces to bring new legislation and set up a single authority to nab profiteers. It has also recommended application of price control over essential commodities as well as foodstuff at wholesale and not retail stage and setting up of supermarkets on the public-private partnership mode to end the role of middlemen and give better returns to farmers.
Despite various odds and hurdles, the CCP itself has been striving hard to make its presence felt and keep a check on monopolies and cartels. At occasions, its timely actions saved consumers from strong jaws of some cartels but it can deliver as per expectations of the people and its original mandate if it is allowed to work independently and its findings are duly implemented by the Government. Inflation has reached unprecedented heights these days because of multiple factors like massive devaluation of rupee, frequent upward revision in prices of POL products, significant increase in the tariff of both gas and electricity, increase in taxation and withdrawal of subsidies and concessions for different sectors. However, there are reasons to believe that a part of the price-hike is artificial and reflected the unending greed of some industrialists and businessmen. They are in the habit of exploiting the situation as we witnessed recently in the case of hiking of sugar prices by the industry despite availability of surplus stocks but no one came to the rescue of consumers. The recommendations of CCP can offer panacea against price-hike but regrettably the authorities concerned pay least attention to satisfactory resolution of this critical problem and rely only on adhoc measures and policies. The CCP had proposed back in 2015 that a uniform formula for fixing a range of prices should be adopted to discourage traders from diverting and hoarding supplies to places where better prices are offered. The Prime Minister, who recently took serious notice of price-hike, ought to give serious consideration to this and other recommendations of the CCP regarding price-control. These proposals should be given practical shape on a priority basis as these are based on sincerity of purpose.