A large number of people could not get sugar, gram flour and other commodities from utility stores corporation outlets and ‘Ramazan Sasta Bazaars’ at the time of purchasing other rations due to shortage of these items. They appealed to the concerned authorities to take notice of this shortage on the very first day of the holy month of Ramazan.
Talking to ‘The News’, a number of people said that 1-kilogram sugar was sold at Rs42 at USC outlets while the price of sugar at Ramazan Sasta Bazaar was Rs50 and in the open market it was sold at Rs54-56 per kilogram. They feared that profiteers and hoarders store sugar in bulk and refrain from bringing it to the ‘Ramazan Sasta Bazaars’ to sell them in the open market to reap more profit.
They said that whenever they visit USC outlets they could not find sugar and gram flour, as the staff deputed at the outlets says that the stock for the day has been finished and they could purchase it the next day. How could we visit the USC after wasting our time and money to save some pennies, said a disgruntled Mohammad Shahbaz of New Lalazar, adding the government should ensure availability of sugar at the USC outlets round the clock to save people from unwanted agony while fasting.
Sources also disclosed that it was also an ideal time for the managers of USC outlets to earn more and more profit by supplying ‘sugar’ to retail shops in open market. The concerned managers of USC stores are staging only drama of shortage of ‘sugar’ and selling the commodity at private shops in open markets, the sources claimed.
Utility Stores Corporation (USC) General Manager (Media) Saghir Ahmed said that the people were definitely coming in large numbers, but the corporation had enough sugar stocks to cope with the increase in demand after sugar crisis hit the ‘Ramazan Sasta Bazaars’. He rejected the allegation that concerned managers were selling sugar in private shops and warned that strict action would be taken against officials if they are found involved in this practice, he said. “Many utility stores have displayed a small notice in front of their outlets that sugar will be sold to consumers on producing CNIC cards. The government had introduced this system for sales in order to curb multiple purchases and black marketing”, he claimed.
The city district government, Rawalpindi, have deployed 12 ‘Price Control Magistrates’ in different areas of Rawalpindi Tehsil and their telephone numbers were listed for the public to file any complaint against profiteers. But, unfortunately the concerned price magistrates do not attend telephone calls on the given numbers leaving people’s complaint unheard.
A survey conducted by ‘The News’ at ‘Ramazan Sasta Bazaars’ on Saturday revealed that majority of items were substandard and were sold on high rates. All kinds of fruits were available at ‘Ramazan Sasta Bazaars’ but of inferior quality and were being sold on higher prices. Only ‘atta’ was available in bulk at ‘Ramazan Sasta Bazaars’.
When ‘The News’ contacted District Coordination Officer (DCO) Saqib Zafar, he said that concerned price magistrates would provide him a report of ‘Ramazan Sasta Bazaars’ on daily basis. Price magistrates would not only monitor profiteers at ‘Ramazan Sasta Bazaars’ but in open markets shops as well, he added.