Punjab’s model bazaars offer basic groceries at a subsidized rate. These model markets set up by the government have the low-income class as its target audience. Those who have been badly hit by inflation and are looking for subsidized rates of basic fruits, vegetables, and grains can easily buy from here. Currently, in Lahore, the government runs 10 of these bazaars which are open 24/7 and provide a basic, neat and clean environment for those who are looking for cheaper everyday use and essential items. Not only do these markets provide cheaper and good-quality items to consumers, they also offer stalls at subsidized rates for entrepreneurs. This way, these setups are supporting small businesses and middle to lower-income classes who cannot afford to buy from traditional markets.
The bazaar gives space at reduced rates, and in some circumstances, for free, allowing farmers to sell their harvest at lower prices to buyers. Furthermore, they are not charged for water, electricity, lighting, or security services. The model markets are also a safe space for women to showcase their products and sell them. All those female-led ventures that could not operate in traditional markets due to security reasons are now able to make a living through these facilitated bazaars. This way, many are able to earn a living and live a dignified life.
However, the model bazaar is not free of problems. The government has provided a platform where only a certain number of producers can sell to a certain number of consumers. This can uplift certain communities living in surrounding areas but it cannot lead to the uplifting of a large population out of poverty. In Lahore these bazaars are concentrated in a certain part of the city, people with low incomes living in other parts cannot gain any benefits of these bazaars. Hence, it is not inclusive of the whole population and does not really make an impact in the larger sense. This also leads to further development of inequalities in the classes of society. Moreover, more often than not, people with high incomes buy truckloads of products as they are sold at a lower price, leaving nothing for the low-income persons and once again creating a shortage in the market.
Although the model bazaars are a good initiative to encourage entrepreneurs and provide low-cost produce to low-income households, they are not an effort towards development. The government cannot pick and choose who to provide benefits to and who to deprive of them. Therefore, a system must be put in place that guarantees a price that gives profits to the producer and low cost to the consumer. This can be done through regulation as the free market works through the demand and supply mechanism, which results in fluctuating prices that may cater only to a certain part of the population. Instead of creating these bazaars for the sole purpose of providing low-cost items, the government can invest the same amount of money and time into setting subsidies and managing them in a way that all vendors follow the rules without any corruption. The model bazaars can run as a platform for small businesses and women-led ventures to sell their products, while through regulation and the application of subsidies on certain in-demand and high-priced products traditional markets can sell everyday items to consumers all over the province.