No sign of let up

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AN uncontrollable upward trend in prices of essential commodities has left consumers high and dry as rates witnessed a fresh jump over the last few days.

Weekly inflation, measured by the Sensitive Price Index (SPI), jumped by nearly 31 per cent as compared to last year, amid a big surge in the prices of foods and a couple of fuel items.

The prices are estimated to go further up in the coming week in view of the recent government decision to increase the prices of wheat flour, sugar and ghee by 25 to 62 per cent for sale through the Utility Stores Corporation (USC), to reduce the size of untargeted food subsidies.

There is no denying that the current price hike is an international phenomenon triggered by many factors, especially the Russia-Ukraine war.

According to a report published by the Guardian on Wednesday, the UK food price rises soared to a record rate in December, as retail industry bosses warned high inflation would continue in the current year amid the fallout from surging energy bills.

We also understand that the conditions of the IMF are also stopping the government from extending any worthwhile relief to the common man.

But having said so, we believe that through administrative measures, the prices of essential commodities can be brought down.

For instance, the prices of chicken have recently shot up due to the feed crisis faced by the poultry industry.

By clearing poultry feed’s main raw material from Karachi port, the prices of chicken can be stopped from going beyond the affordability level of the consumers.

This will also help keep the prices of beef and mutton under check.

Similarly, by implementing a price checking mechanism, the profiteers can be stopped from robbing the pockets of poor consumers.

The government at its disposal has a wide network of utility stores through which it can provide relief to the disadvantaged segments of the society.

Mere a lip service will not be enough but the government officials have to take practical measures to demonstrate that they are doing what is in their capacity to lessen the burden on consumers.