–‘Vendors overcharged basic items while district administration was occupied with NA-120 by-poll’
LAHORE: The prices of tomato and onion have skyrocketed in the city as the price control committees have failed to deliver their duty.
Citizens said that the price control committees had not realised their responsibilities to keep a check on the prices of such essential kitchen items after Eid, thus leaving citizens at the mercy of greedy wholesalers and retailers.
Muhammad Arshad, a resident of Mozang, said that there was no proper check on the prices of onion and tomato since Eidul Azha. “The price of tomato and onion cost more than vegetables brought to home daily. They are even costlier than fruits now a days.”
Ashraf, a resident of Anarkali, said that he purchased tomatoes at Rs 150 and onions at Rs 60 per kg which were of normal quality. “The government is sleeping and nobody was paying heed to this issue.”
On the other hand, vendors said that the purchasing price of onion at wholesale market is Rs 50 to 60 per kg while the market committee has fixed it at Rs 55 per kg. In this situation, they said that they are unable to sell the item at official price.
Talking about the price of tomato and onion, Vendor Karamat Ali said that the tomato price is Rs 800 per 5 kg in the wholesale market of Badami Bagh. Therefore, he said that he has fixed Rs 170 per kg as retail price. He said: “I bought 15 kg tomatoes from wholesale market in the morning and all of them have been sold before mid-day at Rs 170 per kg.” A similar case was with onion, he said.
He said he was not responsible for the price hike and could not sell the two items at a price lower than his purchase. He claimed that the prices have risen in almost all areas of the city.
He also said that rotten and low quality tomatoes were selling at 120 to 140 per kg. The citizens urged the government to call meetings of the price control committees and regularly check the price hike.
Market Committee Inspector Riaz Bhatti said that onions and tomatoes are coming from Balochistan and local production from Punjab has stopped. “The transportation charges of trucks carrying onions and tomatoes are high. Sometimes, a truck gets late causing artificial shortage; a situation that vendors exploit. He said that the price of onion has been retailed at Rs 55 per kg and tomato at Rs 100 per kg. “The profiteers will be punished by the city district government,” he added.
The citizens said that vendors have got free hand to overcharge the public as all district administration officials had remained busy in the NA-120 by-elections, while the prices of majority of fruits and vegetables were further increased during the episode. Punjab Food Minister Bilal Yasin, who used to check price hike in markets, remained full busy in the by-poll. This was also a reason of price hike in the city.
Meanwhile, a resolution was submitted on Wednesday in the Punjab Assembly against dysfunctional price control committees for failing to check price-hike of essential commodities. The resolution was submitted by Pakistan Muslim League –Nawaz (PML-N) MPA Hina Pervaiz Butt. According to the resolution: “Price of essential commodities are skyrocketing and vendors are charging citizens at their will. The administration has left citizens at the mercy of profiteers and even price control committee of the Punjab Assembly has not convened a meeting in this regard for months.” The resolution urged the government to make these committees functional for the betterment of citizens.