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Sindh retailers dispute Ramazan price list over discrepancies

May 11, 2019

KARACHI: The price list of groceries prepared by the Sindh government is non-implementable, as it is riddled with a number of discrepancies, while the rates fixed for Ramazan are unrealistic and unacceptable, retailers said on Friday.

More than 2,430 shopkeepers have been fined by Sindh Supply and Prices Department for not abiding by the prices set by the government for the fasting month.

On top of the rate issues, stakeholders said 60 percent of the shopkeepers in Karachi had not received the price list as yet, thus, they were unable to follow the prices.

This time, office of the commissioner Karachi has released the price lists on its website and the Android application for mobile phones; however, majority of retailers does not own smartphones or computers to check the prices, said one shopkeeper.

Previously, the lists were published and released by Karachi Retail Grocers Association. They distributed the lists among at least 20,000 retailers in the city.

The News also learnt that besides its availability with the retailers, the price list had several issues as well, as some of the prices are different from the ones that were active before Ramazan in many cities.

Farid Qureshi, secretary general Karachi Retail Grocers Association, told The News that prices maintained by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics were realistic, while the list prepared by the commissioner office was not.

“We have written a letter to the commissioner of Karachi to maintain prices shown on the list of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics,” Qureshi said.

One stakeholder said the prices shown as A-grade in the wholesale list were actually of the lower grade items, whereas the A-grade prices that were not mentioned in the list were higher than the ones mentioned.

“For example, price of pulse maash (A-grade) in the retail list has been set at Rs124/kg; however, A-grade pulse in the wholesale market is available at Rs135/kg,” he said asking how a shopkeeper could incur loss by selling an item at a rate lower than its cost.

He added that price of chickpeas (A-grade) has been mentioned at Rs117/kg, which was being sold for Rs135 in the market, whereas Besan (gram flour) was already being sold for Rs140 to Rs150/kg, but in the list its rate was set at Rs111/kg. “This will result in compromise over the quality of grocery items,” he said. “Pulse moong (washed), whose price in the PBS price list is Rs151.46/kg in the country, while the provincial list recommends it to be sold at Rs137/kg.”

Furthermore, the industry official said, price of mutton had been fixed at Rs740/kg while it was already over Rs1,000/kg in the market.

“In one store in the DHA (Defence Housing Authority), I purchased mutton for Rs1,250/kg,” said one citizen, while talking to The News, and added that customers wanted control on prices and not a compromise over quality.

He said with the prices of rice, the shopkeepers were selling lower quality of this commodity to the customers following the government issued list.

The prices of most common grocery items mentioned in the list are higher than the average prices implemented in the country on May 3 in the list of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

On the other hand, the official said the price list had been mentioned in English only on the Android app, which did not have any snap shots of the items, while the English names of groceries were too difficult for both customers and the shopkeepers to read.

“Pigeon peas, petite crimson lentils and split Bengal bram are mentioned for for kidney beans, pulse masoor and pulse channa, respectively,” the official said. So far, Sindh government has slapped a fine of over Rs3.41 million on 2,430 retailers in the province out of visited 9,360 shops for violating the price list.