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Pre-Ramadan ‘price-hike genie’ haunts the twin cities 

24 Julie 2010 01:28:58

Pre-Ramadan ‘price-hike genie’ haunts the twin cities

By: Azhar Mehmood Khan

ISLAMABAD July 24, 2010: As the month of Ramadan is approaching the profiteer mafia has once again increased the price of kitchen commodities significantly, putting an extra burden on the people living in the twin cities who are already hit hard by the ever-rising inflation.

The prices of vegetable, fruit and chicken have suddenly gone up and it has become the habit of the retailers and wholesalers to increase the price before the start of the holy month Ramadan compelling the citizens to purchase the things of day to day use at higher rates.

Muhammad Jabbar a resident of satellite town expressed his concern over pre-Ramadan price hike by saying, “It has become a tradition now that the prices of edibles are increased before the month of Ramadan. Government does not take any measure in advance; it tries to bring the prices down later, in the name of Ramadan package or some special subsidy to project its good image but till then it becomes too late. It should take some action in advance to stop this over-charging before the start of the holy month.”

“It seems that the government is helpless and has no control over the traders. The white collar class of the society is severely hit by the rise in prices. It’s pertinent that the masses should not be left on the mercy of the exploiters and the government must step ahead to save the people from their tyranny,” said Muhammad Asghar who is working in a private organization.

In the month of Ramadan -- a time of dedicated simplicity and fasting -- the issue comes into sharper focus. The Muslims’ month of fasting is traditionally recognized as a month having the potential of making maximum profit for retailers, and the prospect of pre- Ramadan price hike appeals to many of them.

“Consumers are set to pay high prices in Ramadan as the prices fixed by the city government are low and don’t match the prices in the retail and wholesale market. The price of tomatoes has increased from 20 to Rs 40 per kg. The prices of other vegetables including lady finger and cabbage have gone up by 5 to 10 rupees per Kg.,” said Muhammed Arif, who is a tube-well operator in PTCL Colony. “The price of meat and chicken was already very high and now it has become difficult for a common man to pay even for pulses,” he further added.

As rate of fresh milk is not fixed, consumers would be on the mercy of the milk-men who are already charging Rs 44 to 50 per liter. In the absence of any check on poultry products by the city government, poultry dealers are set to enjoy a free-hand while charging during the holy month.

“It is very hard to manage the budget of a house as prices of daily commodities are beyond the reach of a common man. The prices of edibles are already very high and I am sure it will increase further during the month of Ramadan. At least there should be some relief in holy month so that we can offer prayers and fast with a peaceful mindset,” said Shehnaz Rahim, a resident of Bhara Kahu.

Mrs. Zunera Abdullah, a house wife expressed her concerns by saying, “The prices of food items have started increasing considerably as the city is once again haunted by the pre-Ramadan price hike phenomenon. We are Muslims but we don’t let go any chance of looting our Muslim brothers. Why don’t we take a lesson from Christians and Hindus who take good care of their community on the arrival of their religious festivals and rituals?”

Of late, there is a continuous increase in the prices of daily use items with no check or monitoring whatsoever. The government’s attitude towards the price spiral reflects a total lack of concern. The common people are least concerned with the foreign exchange, reserves, revenue generation and foreign trade. What they are interested in is that they should be able to make both ends meet in an easy, affordable and dignified manner.