WHILE high prices of essential commodities in the open market have already made the life of a common man miserable, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) at its meeting on Friday approved an increase in the rates of sugar, wheat flour and ghee at the Utility Stores Corporation (USC).
The price of sugar has been jacked up from Rs 68 to Rs 85 per kilogram, ghee from Rs 170 to Rs 260 per kg and wheat flour from Rs 800 to Rs 950 per bag.
Ordinary people mostly turn to the utility outlets for purchase of essential items and increasing prices there amount to further adding to their woes.
Increasing gap between the subsidized prices offered by the USC and the prevailing market prices has surprisingly been cited as the reason behind the increase in the prices of essential commodities at the USC.
This only indicates that the government has surrendered before the profiteers and hoarders.
Instead of taking firm action against profiteers, the common man has been once again overburdened.
The very impact of increase in sugar, ghee and flour prices at the USC will soon be visible in the form of further increase in their prices at the open market
. The USC was also established with the main purpose of providing necessities of life to the people at reasonable rates and protecting them from inflationary trends in the open market.
We, therefore, will suggest the government to review its decision and bring the prices of essential items to their previous levels at the USC. Even if it has to increase the price, it should be minimal.
We have been stressing in these columns for putting in place a strict price control mechanism and despite the government’s repeated assertions in that regard, nothing has been done towards that end.
The absence of a price control mechanism has given a free hand to mafias to rob the pockets of poor consumers with both hands.
The PTI government must understand that the problem of price hike is seriously denting its popularity and one saw its manifestation in the recently held by-election.
The government must do course correction and undertake concrete steps that not only keep the prices at stable level but also increase the purchasing power of the people.