Lately, the authorities for provincial and district areas have failed to control the prices of essential goods in the city. Because of an ineffective plan to maintain price control, the rate of onions has peaked to Rs. 100 in different parts of Lahore.
Several customers and citizens were complaining that the prices have doubled over the weeks and the authorities have done nothing to control the rates.
A middle aged lady, Mrs Mushtaq said, that there’s no alternative for using onions and yet the government pretends to feign ignorance about the matter.
On TV channels they show ministers that keep telling people to use yogurt or tamarind if tomatoes aren’t cheap and yet they themselves have never done grocery shopping. Why don’t they explain to me a substitute for onion?
One of the locals, Asif Hanif, stressed on how the street vendor sold onions ranging from 90-100 kilogram, at times separating the ‘good and bad’ onion with regards to its size and quality of the product.
“I doubt there’s a mechanism to maintain the prices in the city. If there was any, the situation would have been different,” he remarked disappointedly.
One of the high-ranking officers of the Punjab Agriculture Department, stated that due to poor coordination among the government agencies there’s been increase in the prices of essential goods.
“After passage of the 18th Constitution Amendment, though provinces have gotten autonomy, it has created a huge administrative vacuum in various sectors,”
He then directed attention towards the problem, that the supply, demand or production of the essential goods was not monitored by any government agency at the national level. Because there is no organized link between the provincial departments.
According to him, around 1.7 million tonnes of onions fulfilled the national requirement and that it was an adequate sum. Most of it is produced in Punjab, 7.5 million in Sindh and a 5 million in Balochistan. Punjab itself consumes 70% of the national production.
Govt Fails to Control Prices Of Tomatoes Despite Claims
The official remarked that if Pakistan had a forecasting system for agriculture, like India and developed countries then such emergencies might be prevented.
He emphasized, that the decision-makers should have updated information regarding the production statistics and the demand in market places. Also, it is not possible for a province to be self-reliant and meet its own production demand due to different weather as well as crop cycles.
He gave an example that Punjab relies on other provinces for vegetables and fruits, while the other provinces are reliant on Punjab for wheat. Then he recalled an instance from last year, when Balochi onion farmers faced huge losses due to poor commodity, however this year, they sustained their losses by selling at higher rates.
LHC Seeks Answers
Justice Shahid Karim of the Lahore High Court registered a petition against the shortage and high prices of tomatoes all over the province, hoping to get a reply from the Punjab government within two weeks.
The petitioner’s counsel informed the court about the tomato rates which had peaked to Rs.300 per kilogram, and how the government has been unsuccessful in maintaining the rates. Moreover, he said that it also failed to meet the consumer demand of tomatoes.
He urged the court to direct the government to find a solution and decrease the prices of tomatoes and as well as to make sure that the shortage ends.