PKonweb Report — Some vegetables and nearly all fruits have become up to three times more expensive in Karachi than they were before Ramadan, as retailers are overcharging consumers in the absence of an effective price checking mechanism and a dysfunctional local government setup.
A similar uptick in prices of groceries has also been reported from other major cities including Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
Residents said governments and major stores in other countries of the world offer discount package on essential items for the Muslim community during the month of fasting, but the situation in Pakistan was opposite.
Karachi — Pakistan’s biggest city and its financial capital, however, is reportedly ground-zero of the price scalping practice typically observed every year during the holy month of Ramadan.
Tomato, which was available at Rs30 to Rs40 per kg ahead of Ramadan, now costs between Rs100 and Rs120 per kg while the rate of capsicum has soared to Rs240 per kg from Rs80 per kg. Similarly, the prices of green chili, lemon and cabbage have increased from Rs80 to Rs120, Rs300 to Rs400 and from Rs60 to Rs80 per kg, respectively, reported Dawn.
A dozen of bananas are priced between Rs120 and Rs150, while their pre-Ramadan rate was Rs80. The prices of melon (kharbooza), peach, and cantaloupe (garma) increased from Rs50 to Rs100; from Rs100 to Rs180 and from Rs60 to Rs80 per kg respectively. Water melon was being sold at Rs30 before the holy month but it is priced at Rs40 per kg now.
Retailers are charging Rs160 to Rs200 per kg for Sindhri mango while the price of Sindhri mango in small size hovers between Rs120 and Rs140 per kg. Mango varieties had arrived in markets a few days before Ramadan and retailers were already charging higher prices.
The city government had claimed to have an effective system for monitoring of overcharging during Ramadan but consumers have yet to witness any kind of price checking campaign or complaint cells. There is no importance of official price list. Most of the retailers have not displayed the list while those displaying the list at their shops were not following it.
According to a handout issued by the Karachi commissioner, action was taken against 333 retailers involved in overcharging consumers. Of them, 23 retailers were sent to jail and over Rs700,000 fine was imposed on others.
Commissioner Aijaz Ahmed Khan has asked the district administration to ensure sale of essential goods as per official rate list and continue taking action against profiteers.