Sunday September 26, 2021

Public outcry over withdrawal of subsidies at utility stores

July 31, 2021

Islamabad: Common man’s trust in Utility Stores Corporation (USC) has dwindled as government-run stores have lost their basic objective to provide maximum relief to the poor segment of society. After the withdrawal of subsidies on ghee, ‘atta’, and sugar, no big rush could be seen at utility stores here on Friday.

The government-run stores remained the last hope for a common man where they could buy all eatable items at cheaper rates as compared to the open market. But, the sitting government added fuel to fire after withdrawing subsidies provided on sugar, flour, and ghee at utility stores that led a hike in their prices. After the approval of the federal cabinet, the prices of flour increased by Rs7 per kilogram, sugar by Rs17 per kilogram while ghee/cooking oil has been increased by Rs90 per kilogram. The rate of sugar goes up from Rs68 to Rs85 per kilogram, the rate of a 20-kilogram bag has gone up from Rs800 to Rs950 and the 1-liter ghee/cooking oil has gone up from Rs170 to Rs260.

Talking to ‘The News’ people visiting different utility stores here on Friday protested against the PTI government saying Prime Minister Imran Khan had promised to provide maximum relief to the public after having seat but he was killing the poor through his wrong policies.

Shaista Omar Lodhi, a housewife visiting a USC outlet at Adiala Road said that what kind of government is this. “Utility store was the only ray of hope where poor people could buy eatable items at cheaper prices as compared to open market shops. But, the PTI government has snatched this facility too. “What kind of governance Prime Minister wants to bring here in the country,” she denounced.

Kiran Minhas, another housewife asked who will take notice of ever-increasing inflation in the country. “People are begging and even committing suicides but the authorities concerned at watching the whole drama with closed eyes,” she denounced.

Muhammad Farooq at Karachi Company Utility Store said that he came to buy 2-kilogram ghee. “I paid Rs340 to store staff but store staff demanded Rs520 for 2-kilogram ghee. I was shocked to learn about the new prices and inquired about it but store staff did not listen to me and finally, I bought 1-kilogram ghee at Rs260,” he added.

Samina Abid, a customer said that we were expecting a decrease in prices of eatables but the PTI government has increased prices of all eatables even in stores. “Surprisingly, PTI government winning elections despite inflation flood all around,” she bemoaned.

Ayaz Ahmed Shaikh, a customer here at Chandni Chowk Utility Store said that enough is enough, PTI government has broken the back of a common man. “The poor man is forced to commit suicides due to ever-increasing inflation but our Prime Minister is saying that ‘Ghabrana Nahe’ (Don’t worry). How we could survive in this situation,” he denounced.

The store manager also hinted at declining business fearing downsizing in the number of staff and reduction in the number of stores if the current trend of withdrawing subsidies continues. Among the food items, people used to get wheat flour, pulses, vegetable ghee, oil, sugar, etc., at subsidised rates from utility stores where long queues were seen till recently when all such commodities were available at subsidised rates.