Pinching prices, sinking hearts | By Prof Parvez Jamil

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Pinching prices, sinking hearts


EVEN thinking or talking of any remedies how to grapple with the spiraling and uncontrollable price-hike is a very tough task, what to talk of actually implementing fanciful ideas and solutions for the rocketing prices! While inflation is round-the-year phenomenon from man in the street to elitist or opulent gossiping about it as fashion, in reality it is the primary question of sinking pulses amid soaring and irrepressible prices from dawn to dusk labourer to the common man!

Forgetting lunch or dinner luxury dishes of poultry, mutton or beef and fruit fancied bananas, lemons, melons or water melons, a poor man cannot even afford the cheapest meal: ata at Rs 300 for five kg with cheapest dal (masoor) at Rs 150 per kg, ghee at Rs 100 per kg, forgetting tomatoes, onions, mint and coriander.

If the poor daily wage earner has to feed 5-6 family members, he is left in a lurch unable to meet vagaries of joblessness and the lock-down!

The picture of fruit prices is not rosier even for those a little better than the poorest. For example, apple (red) is being sold at Rs 280 per kg. Banana is being sold at Rs 120. However, the government price list for banana is Rs 95 per dozen.

As such, prices of fruits per kg like guava are Rs 200 instead of Rs 84, melon Rs 120 instead of Rs 60, watermelon Rs 85 instead of Rs 50 and lemon Rs 400 plus instead of Rs 150.

Fruit at distant sabzi mandis cost a little better but going far makes it more costly. For the lonely weak sick and old couple unable to walk to buy fruit from branded stores are depleting and heart-sinking with examples of an unbearable price-hike: Bananas sky-rocketing at Rs. 150 per dozen and Rock Melons soaring at Rs 200 per dozen! Delivery charges, or for that matter, punishment of not being able to walk physically is Rs 100! Remarkable fate of the incapacitated but so-called respectable senior citizens!
For the poor commoner latest per kg cost of tempting but scaring vegetables continue to lie unabated here as follows: Onions (Pyaz) Rs 50, Potatoes (Aaloo) Rs 50, Ginger (Adrak) Rs 100, Garlic (Lehsan) Rs 80, Tomatoes (Timater) Rs 40 and forgetting luxuries as Lady finger (Bhindi) Rs 80, Cauliflower (Gobi) Rs 60, Bottle Gourd (Loki) Rs 50, Peas (Matar) Rs 3 00, Brinjal (Baingun) Rs 160! Lemons sky-rocket to Rs 450 per kg and green chilies sell at Rs 80 per kg.

Sky is the limit when it comes to the soaring prices. But the affordability factor crashes to down in the dumps even for basic needs what to talk of unlimited wants.

Here well-meaning and well-intention-ed may be so many philanthropic measures. But commoners need above average thinking and planning to cope with inflation.

Such practical examples of caring in conserving have to be sincerely practised even if these steps sound needless if not ridiculous as keeping a close watch on dripping cooking oil from its pouch or leaking sugar from a torn shopper or wasting extra rotis, handis or pakoras and for that matter, being careful or vigilant in handling water taps, sanitary items, electrical appliances and electronic objects to avoid undue expenditure on plumbers, electricians, masons and alike.

It has to be borne in mind that over-eating or indulgence in rich and greasy food not only takes a toll of one’s digestive system but may lead to a heavy expenditure on medical consultancy, medicines and treatment in times of price-hike.

How can the commoners of Pakistan, originally the land of purity, promise and potential, can best address whether it is the vagary of rampant inflation or the tragedy of corona lock-down.

—The writer contributes to media on national and international affairs.

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