The price hike has started a blame game in Rawalpindi. People blame the government. Retailers blame wholesalers for charging high, wholesalers blame importers and producers for not supplying enough,...
The price hike has started a blame game in Rawalpindi. People blame the government. Retailers blame wholesalers for charging high, wholesalers blame importers and producers for not supplying enough, and importers, in turn, blame wholesalers for stockpiling.
“Importers also blame international market and complexity in import procedure. Moreover, traders blame the cost of transportation and a series of extortions at all levels,” says Nusrat Zaidi.
“On the other hand, consumers blame traders and sellers for higher prices as they have to purchase directly from retailers. Consumers also blame the government for not taking enough or tough actions to contain price hike,” adds Nusrat.
“In fact, it is the government who creates an expectation among people that price would be stable. Failing to meet people’s expectations, the government, in turn, blames traders for charging more prices and profiteering,” says Zainab Ali.
Fatima and Hasnain belonging to civil society and media hold the traders responsible for price hikes. They point fingers at a ‘powerful syndicate’ or cartel for fixing prices at higher levels. “We strongly believe that some powerful businesses and traders’ syndicates are controlling the supply of many essentials and determining the prices to grab huge profits,” they say.
“Nevertheless, the question is, if there are such strong syndicates, why is the administration not detecting and scrapping them. Are these syndicates more powerful than the government,” says Aiman Shabbir, a consumer.
“Serious effort of the government to check undue hike of prices in different times of a year is frustrating. Who fixes the percentage of profit for the wholesalers and retailers? The rationale for setting profit margins is not clear. I believe that a high percentage of the profit at the retail level actually encourages the retailers to increase the prices of many items,” says Zaman Mehdi.
“When retailers are already enjoying a high percentage of profit in several items, enhancing the margin becomes a bonus for them. Thus, the idea to fix profit margin is not well calculated, “says Raza Haider, an economics lecturer in a local college.
“The first and foremost reason for the price hike is the supply-demand mismatch. There is no doubt that the demand for some food items like edible oil, sugar, onion, pulse, gram, and date has increased significantly. The people of the country who are the ultimate consumers, not the traders or governments, create the additional demand,” says Shafaq Hussain.