Government’s inaction over profiteering

THOUGH the Government claims that inflation has come down to a record low but the ground realities present a different picture and this tendency on the part of the authorities concerned is adding to the woes of the masses. The prices ought to come down due to a variety of factors including steep fall in the prices of POL products, reduction in prices of raw material in the international market and appreciation of rupee against some currencies but, in the absence of effective monitoring and implementation mechanism, market forces have adopted anti-consumer behaviour, fleecing them with both hands.
There are reasons to believe that apart from inaction, in some cases, the Government seems to be colluding with some cartels and as a result the prices are increased without any justification. A case in point is the price of sugar, which has gone up from Rs. 48 to Rs. 65 since December 2015 when the Government gave generous approval for export of the commodity and that too with Rs. 13 a kilo subsidy. Earlier, the Government increased regulatory duty on import of sugar by hundred percent depriving consumers of benefits of falling sugar prices in the international market. Similarly, the Government has been unjustifiably increasing support price of wheat to please powerful feudal lobby and as a result the rates of flour are rapidly increasing in the domestic market. Free for all export of wheat flour to Afghanistan and its smuggling even to Central Asia is also one of the causes of steep increase in prices of the staple food in Pakistan. The Government has also miserably failed to make importers of the powdered milk to reduce prices in line with the price trend in the international market. Prices of poultry have also been jacked up tremendously in recent weeks and profiteers are not responding even to calls by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar who described the trend as absolutely unjustified. Therefore, Federal and Provincial Governments must act together in discouraging profiteers and safeguarding interest of the consumers.

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