Wherein most of the commodities prices have declined to record lows in the international market. In Pakistan there has been an opposite surge where prices of basic commodities have inflated.
Different market associations, trader alliance have increased the rates of pulses, rice, sugar and milk from 10 to 15 percent. Which itself is indicative of market manipulation and black marketing.
Contrary to the reality, these trade bodies are claiming shortage of supplies and limited imports. It will increase prices, though there has been no surge in commodity prices in the international market, neither there are any new taxes.
The retail rates issued by the government, in consultation with market do not match the rates prevailing in the markets. Even the market stakeholders are seen ignoring the official price despite displaying the list at their shops. Many do not even bother to display the official rates.
There seems to be no effective control on prices of any item especially essential commodities and consumer goods. For years together, people continue to unwillingly accept whatever increase in the rate of the item is. Effected by manufacturers/producers and that, too, for a brief period only to refix it on a higher side after the validity period.
The consumer rights bodies across the world are known for their effective role in keeping an eye on the standard and prices of consumer goods. But here in Pakistan, you may hardly find any product available to all segments of society at a reasonable rate.
In this view, consumer rights bodies are supposed to keep in mind the actual cost of a product, make sure the availability of essential commodities to the public and resist profiteering by cartels.
But here the system goes the other way. People are forced to pay higher rates for one product or the other on the pretext of shortage. But who will check if the product is really in short supply or if it’s an artificial shortage.
However, some consumer rights activists are of the view that market players are only creating an artificial supply scarcity to multiply their profits.
The government price control functionaries and competition regulators should make a prompt move against the market manipulators and save the masses from over-profiteering.
Besides, people must have awareness of their rights. They must know the actual value of the product they buy. More importantly state and its institutions concerned are not supposed to turn a blind eye to profiteering and other tools of consumer exploitation.