Wednesday December 06, 2023

Exploitation across board

January 27, 2023

LAHORE: Current economic situation cannot be controlled by the government, but if it exerts its writ, it can curb the exploitative culture prevalent in our society. This could provide much needed relief that subsidies cannot.

The exploitative mindset across the board is highly visible, particularly when it comes to big businesses. And though big businesses are severely criticised for exploiting the poor consumers and rightly so; this exploitation is not restricted to those having big money. Everyone down from a butcher, rickshaw driver or small trader exploits the consumers whenever they get an opportunity.

Exploiters are heartless persons as they try to take advantage of the people in distress. In recent floods for instance, traders from big cities purchased the cattle at 50 percent or less rates because the poor owners did not have the resources to buy fodder for their cattle.

The traders tripled their investment by selling the cattle at above average prices that consequently resulted in increase in rates of beef.

Cement, sugar and poultry cartels have been identified by the Competition Commission of Pakistan and in a recent judgment the courts found CCP decision on poultry cartel correct and fined poultry association.

Still some major cases are pending in the courts for over a decade.

Less affluent families have been denied the facility of best treatment because the consultancy and operation fee of best doctors is beyond their means.

Hoarders go scot free when they raise the rates of any commodity, which is not even short in supply. To keep the rates high, the hoarders release the commodity in a controlled manner to create an impression of shortage.

Rates of vegetables mainly increase not because of short production but because of hoarding. Prices of vegetables like onion, ginger, and garlic that have long shelf life remain high.

It is worth noting that the rates of fruits normally fluctuate according to demand and supply. The reason is that fruits usually cannot be hoarded. The second reason is that the common consumers stop consuming when prices increase.

Whenever there is heavy rain, which makes it impossible to walk on the roads, transporters like rickshaw and taxi drivers double their rates, and people in distress have no choice but to pay them whatever they demand. Making money is not a sin, but exploiting people and overcharging them is a crime that goes unpunished in Pakistan.

Exploitation and monopoly is illegal in Pakistan, but unfortunately the government lacks the writ to stop these illegal practices. In fact, the government itself exploits the consumers in sectors where it enjoys monopoly.

The government exploits its monopoly by passing on its unbearable inefficiency costs to the consumers.

The economy of the country is hostage to the exploiters from both public and private sectors. The civil society is a silent spectator and only raises its voice in case of few high profile human rights abuse cases.