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Most retailers continue to fleece consumers

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* Flour, sugar, other kitchen items being sold at high rates despite drop in wholesale prices

By Tanveer Sher

KARACHI: Most commodity retailers of the city have failed to pass on the relief of declining rates of flour, sugar and other kitchen items during the last one-month to the consumers.
It transpired during a survey of several wholesale markets of the city that during the last one-month sharp decline was registered in prices of some kitchen items especially sugar and all varieties of flour but despite fall in their prices, retailers have been charging higher rates from consumers.

Ironically officials of Sindh Bureau of Supply and Prices, who are responsible to keep an eye on overcharging, are silent over the situation.

The declining price trend of different varieties of flour was witnessed in the market on account of bumper wheat crop during the current year, which has plunged to Rs 2,300 per 100 kilogrammes (kg) bag in the open market as compared to official rates of Rs 2,375 to Rs 2,400 per 100kg bag.

In view of large supply of wheat from interior Sindh, flour mills have made downward revision in prices of ex-mill to Rs 26 per kg as against old rates of Rs 29 to Rs 30 per kg.
Similarly, chakki flour, which was previously supplied to retailers at higher prices of Rs 32 to Rs 33 per kg, is now provided to them at lower rates of Rs 30 per kg.

However, large number of retailers appear reluctant to pass on the price benefit to consumers on account of lack of vigil by the concerned department of the provincial government, giving them a free hand to charge whimsical rates from buyers.

Consequently, ex-mill rates charged by the retailers continue to be on the higher side of Rs 29 to Rs 30 per kg while chakki flour is available to buyers at exorbitant prices of Rs 33 to Rs 34 per kg.

Similarly, consumers are compelled to pay higher sugar prices, which have declined considerably in the wholesale markets to Rs 58 per kg as compared to old rates of Rs 65 to Rs 67 per kg, which is now available to retailers at Rs 58 per kg from wholesale markets.

Majority of retailers in different areas of the city are still charging Rs 65 to Rs 70 per kg from their buyers.

Karachi Retailer and Grocer Group General Secretary Fareed Qureshi talking to the scribe acknowledged about the declining price trend of sugar and all varieties of flour claiming that an overwhelming majority of retailers are selling these items at reduced rates while a handful of them are indulged in massive profiteering.

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