KARACHI: Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Abdul Hafeez Sheikh on Monday claimed that tomatoes are being sold at Rs17 per kilogramme.
However, the fruit is being sold at as much as Rs320 per kilogramme as reported by citizens and sources who bought groceries from multiple locations in the city on Monday morning.
The finance advisor also advised people to buy tomatoes only from the sabzi mandi if they did not wish to splurge on the basic food item.
When some of the reporters present at the scene told him that tomatoes were, in fact, being sold at Rs240 per kilo, he refuted their comment, saying people were lying.
A journalist said: “Which sabzi mandi, sir?” To which, Dr Sheikh responded: “You go and check it out yourself!”
Another journalist added: “Is it the sabzi mandi of Islamabad that you’re talking about?”
Immediately, then, the adviser looked directly at the camera, muttering under his breath, “oh this again,” and everyone behind him laughed.
“That’s what is being run on the TV,” Dr Sheikh noted, to which one of the reporters said: “But on the TV, it says tomatoes are being sold for Rs240 a kilo.”
Another journalist responded with a fresh personal story: “Sir, I myself bought tomatoes for Rs300 a kilo.”
“Oh but I am agreeing that prices of many commodities need to be controlled. Agriculture [industry] has seasonality,” the PM’s adviser explained, as someone from behind persistently tries to stop the person holding the phone from recording the video of Dr Sheikh’s comments.
“There are storage facilities for many things, especially fresh produce, but we don’t have them in our country, so we need to come up with solutions for such problems.
“Then there’s this thing that if you increase the capacity, then it’s natural that you’d predict beforehand about which things experience seasonal shortage, and, therefore, you can order it prior and store and there would be additional storage cost,” he said.
Vendors and hawkers claim that the high prices are not their fault since wholesale prices have shot up significantly.