Price spree


As the Islamic holy month of fasting is round the corner, a fresh price spree is likely hit the countrymen after the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics announced another short-term inflation in its sensitive price index (SPI) that is nothing short of alarming.
As always, the prices of basic commodities such as fruits, vegetables, meat and pulses have skyrocketed in the weeks leading up to Ramazan-ul-Mubarik, causing immense hardships for the already struggling masses.
This annual phenomenon has become a matter of concern for the government, which has failed to implement effective measures to control the prices of essential items. The lack of regulation and unchecked profiteering by the vendors has caused a significant surge in the prices of daily use items, resulting in the common man bearing the brunt of the price hike.
It is distressing to see that the prices of essential items are increased without any justifiable reason, taking advantage of the fact that the demand for these items will increase during the month of Ramazan. This act of profiteering not only hurts the pockets of the common man but also goes against the spirit of the holy month, which is a month of charity, empathy and selflessness.
As the government is under tremendous pressure to meet the harsh conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the price of each and every commodity has seen an upsurge that is increasingly pushing the low-income families to fend for themselves. It also tests the government’s ability to strike a deal with the global lender to bridge the fiscal deficit facing the country. The ongoing situation postulates that the incumbent government has failed to show any spine as far as the protection of ordinary citizen’s financial well-being is concerned. The average citizen has been left at the mercy of IMF-guided policies which has largely decimated people’s household budget. The recent inflation statistics revealed by the SPI stated that the inflation has caused the cost many goods to increase compared to last year. The most dramatically affected items are those known as essential food items, a cost in the country that is already unaffordable for many families.
The government needs to take prompt action to address this issue and ensure that the prices of essential items are controlled. Price control committees should be set up at the federal and provincial levels to monitor the prices of commodities regularly. These committees should have the authority to take strict action against elements who engage in price gouging. Moreover, the government should take steps to promote competition in the market to ensure that vendors do not have a monopoly on the prices of essential items. This can be achieved by facilitating the entry of new players in the market and encouraging small businesses. It is high time for the government to take concrete steps to address the issue of the price spree during the Islamic holy month of fasting. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the basic necessities of life are affordable for all, especially during the holy month, where charity and empathy are the guiding principles.