It is not the first time . Every year in the month of Ramadan, prices of commodities rise up to 150 % to 200 %. And once these prices go up, they stay there for the rest of the year. It happens in Pakistan and India only. I have experienced that in Christmas season prices of commodities are reduced up to 50 % in other countries. Why it can not be in Pakistan? There are so many reasons.
- Government has no effective mechanism to control the prices. And if there is any mechanism for this, it is not implemented 100%.
- Government don’t have a complete data of shops and stores.
- Owner of shops and stores increase the prices at any time without any valid justification. And there is no law to control the increase in prices.
- When you ask shopkeepers/stores why they increase the prices, they will say that suppliers have increase the prices. No one is going to bear the responsibility.
- Manufacturers fix the prices of their finished items up to 150% to 200% more than that of their manufacturing cost. If the manufacturing cost of an item is Rs.50/- they will sell it for Rs.150/-. And there is a middle man (Agency), who want to be rich over night, increasing price up to 25% to 30%. In this way an item whose manufacturing cost is Rs. 50/- will be sold for Rs.200/-.
- These days, Market Committee fixes the commodities prices usually for fruits and general items. This list is distributed to the fruit dealers/general stores at around 9.00 A.M. The shop keepers keep this price list at one side and sell the item on their own price. There is no check if items are being sold as per price list provided by the Market Committee.
- Prices of commodities vary from shop to shop. Why? No Answer.
- Rich people are the main cause of dearness. They feel insulted to ask for bargain. They will just pay whatever shop keeper tell the price. It is really shameful for us to increase the prices of commodities during the month of Ramadan. I asked a supplier of fruits why they increase the prices? He said “This is the month of our earning”. Shame. He explained that he earns so much money in one month which he can not get in one year.
To control this flood of high prices of commodities is really hard unless Government apply the blind force to cope with this crisis of prices.Here are some suggestions to lower the prices.
- There should be a scientific and effective mechanism to control the prices. To find out such method, scholars, researchers and sincere people ( from public sectors too) should be invited to find out a practical solution. Once agreed upon a procedure, it should be implemented with the real spirit of the procedure.
- There are many shops and carts who don’t have a licence to run a business. It is general practice that any one can open any shop anywhere any time. In other countries, if a barber shop is going to be opened, there must be a licence to run the shop. Before issuing a license, the Licencing Authority will see and confirm the following :
1. Does the applicant has completed the relevant training? (Yes, he should complete apprenticeship for 6 months).
2. Does the shop meets the health requirements ?
3. Does the shop has relevant equipment ?
- Most of the shops in our country don’t have a valid license. For some reasons, Government is unable to check all the shops if they have a valid license. More over there is no record available for all shops. Government has her own explanations for it. It is a good idea to grant the power to Local Union Councils to issue a license and collect the fee. It will increase their revenue and they can easily keep an eye on legal and illegal shops. They can fix the prices of commodities and check if any shopkeeper is overpricing. Local Union Councils should be granted the power of imposing any penalty for over pricing.
- No shop/store should be allowed to increase the prices on their own will.
- Manufacturers would be controlled and asked to provide the original/exact manufacturing cost of their products. It should be examined by experts.All the manufacturers should be allowed/instructed to add not more than 10 to 15 % of their manufacturing cost of their products. Increasing more than above percentage should be punishable.
- It is a wrong tendency in our businessmen to try to become rich over night by increasing 100 to 200 % profit on their products. Profit should be moderate. The same system can be impose to suppliers (Agencies). It will take some time to put in the mind of businessmen not to plunder the common man.
- The prices of fruits are so high that a common man can not afford to buy. Imagine, a dozen of banana were sold at Rs. 50/- before the month of Ramadan. It is now being sold for Rs.150/- a dozen these days. People of Karachi started a movement of boycott to buy fruits on the second day of Ramadan. This boycott spread over the country. This is a good step against high prices. And the result, Hurray! News channels and news papers have shown that prices of fruits have come down up to 50% as compared to the first day of Ramadan. As usual, the rich community did not participate in the boycott and showed their mentality that they don’t stand with common man. I strongly appeal to every citizen of Pakistan to participate in the boycott and show that we are united. This practice must be continued for the whole month of Ramadan. No body will die if he/she don’t eat fruits.
May God bless and guide us always.