The runaway prices of food items have become the new normal in the country. This consistent pressure on the shoestring budget of low-income groups has left the government with egg on its face. Though it continues its fight against the inflation mafias, the resounding success (lowest level in two years in January) does not resonate as loudly.
As Muslims in Pakistan are getting ready to welcome Ramadan celebrations, the mounting prices of many essential commodities add to their stress. Already, many have been speaking about how expensive food would make the coming month incredibly tough for them. The latest to enter the skyrocketing race is sugar, which is now being sold for up to Rs 110 per kilo across the country. This increase is particularly worrisome with the fast-approaching hot weather when demand for sweetened beverages goes substantially up.
The government is already under pressure to control the prices of wheat flour. While traders and middlemen are busy playing the blame game, they simply cannot deny the fact that we are not suffering from any shortage. In addition to ample domestic output, Pakistan has already imported 278,482 tonnes of sugar for this season. Keeping in view the looming wheat shortage., Pakistan had already imported one million metric tonnes. A similar rising trend can be seen in the prices of pulses and edible oil. Already, a petition rests before the Lahore High Court over the considerable rise in chicken (as high as Rs 500 per kg) and eggs prices.
No matter how well-intended Islamabad’s resolve may be, prices cannot be controlled without effective market governance. Unscrupulous hoarders and self-serving millers need to be acted against, that too, in the earliest. More devastating is the impact of middlemen on the food chain who add considerable cost to the retail prices.