PRIME Minister Imran Khan on Monday, during a meeting on prices of basic commodities, directed the provincial chief secretaries to ensure all possible administrative measures to stabilize the prices of basic commodities, especially the irrational gap between market and retail.
The meeting was informed that action was being taken against the officers who have not been able to fulfil their responsibilities to stabilize the prices.
So far, seven Assistant Commissioners and two secretaries of market committees have been suspended while two Deputy Commissioners have been issued warnings.
The Government surely has a vast administrative chain available to take action against profiteering and hoarding but the system is not delivering mainly because of lack of monitoring and accountability.
The world over the prices are determined by the universally accepted principle of supply and demand as well as policies and actions of the Government that affect the prices of different items and services like revision of taxes and duties.
However, this is not happening in Pakistan where profiteers, hoarders and mafias have been given a free hand to suck blood of the financially strained masses.
The Government has been trying its best to stabilize prices of wheat flour and sugar but despite liberal imports and adequate supply, the prices are showing continuous upward trends and there are reports of impending shortage and further hike in the prices of sugar once again.
The prices fixed by the Provincial Governments and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) have become irrelevant in the given situation.
Similarly, ghee prices are not coming down despite a steep fall in the prices of edible oil in the international market.
Rates of different items and services are increased after every upward revision in the prices of POL products but never reversed in case of downward revision.
The failure of the administrative machinery, especially in Punjab is also evident from automatic but disproportionate increase in fares by transporters at the time of hike in prices of petroleum products but the difference is pocketed by them if prices of oil are reduced.
Market research would also reveal that the middleman and retailers are earning undue profits and people can get significant relief if there is an effective administrative check on prices.