With the Holy month of Ramzan just a few days away, there are already reports of increase in price of commodities, especially those that are used more in the month. The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet approved the Ramzan Relief Package 2017 with subsidies worth Rs. 1,602 million on 19 commodities to provide relief to the general public during the upcoming holy month of Ramzan.
These commodities include wheat flour (atta), sugar, ghee, oil, pulses (channa, masoor, moong washed and mash washed), white grams, baisen, dates, rice, squashes, black tea, milk, and spices. The commodities will be sold at subsidized rates across Pakistan through outlets of Utility Stores Corporation (USC). In addition to the relief provided by the Ramzan Package, USC will also reduce prices on over 2,400 other items under different brands from 5% to 10% by obtaining special discount from vendors/suppliers and reducing its own profit margins.
Similarly the Punjab government has also announced massive Ramzan relief package and an advertisement campaign is in full flow to highlight the discounts on offer during the Holy month. However the federal and provincial governments need to ensure that apart from offering subsidized commodities, there is a need to maintain stability in prices in the open market. Generally there’s always a spike in prices of commodities during Ramzan, which makes the Holy month tough for many in the society. For this the government should ensure stringent checks in the markets. The government’s role aside vendors should also show a sense of responsibility and compassion and not overcharge customers in this month, at least. Overcharging or profiteering is something that is also against the teachings of our religion.
Over the past few years in Pakistan the culture of ‘lavish Iftar parties’ has also thrived, this trend is also something that raises many questions in a country like Pakistan where majority of population lives on a meager income. For at least one month, a culture of simplicity and brotherhood should be promoted and everyone should made effort to do something for the marginalized and poverty stricken segments of the society.
The government must ensure a strict price regulation mechanism during the month.