The Punjab government told the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday that a mechanism has been devised to ensure the supply of essential commodities to control their prices and eradicate profiteering ahead of and during the upcoming holy month of Ramazan.
Justice Shahid Jamil Khan of the LHC was hearing the case filed by Judicial Activism Panel through Advocate Azhar Siddique. A law officer representing the Punjab government submitted a report carrying the signature of Commissioner Lahore Division Captain retired Muhammad Usman, and assured the court that a notification regarding controlling the prices of essential commodities, their supply and eradication of profiteering would also be issued soon.
The development took place at a moment when inflation is quite high and commodities of daily use, including flour, sugar and vegetables have gone out of the reach of the common man. “The proposed draft Order [for the mechanism to control prices and stop hoarding and profiteering] under Section 3 of the Price control and prevention of profiteering and hoarding Act, 1977, which is in the process of approval by the government, on a provisional basis, if the honourable court desires so,” read the report submitted to the court.
The report unveiled that the draft order for the mechanism was put forth by the Punjab Industries Department in consultation with all the departments concerned. The Industries Department prepared the draft order after deliberation and consultation with all the departments concerned to control the prices of essential commodities and to stop profiteering and hoarding.
According to the report, different officers from various departments would be reviewing the commodities’ prices and the issues related to hoarding and profiteering in the province. The officers would not only fix the prices but would also be responsible for intervening, whenever required, for the smooth supply of edibles during Ramazan.
“For the said purpose of monitoring and managing the supply chain of a commodity, the draft order makes it mandatory upon all manufactures, importers and dealers of an essential commodity to register themselves with the concerned Controller General,” read the report.
The manufacturers are also required to keep the Controller General updated about the quantity produced, imported or purchased, quantity sold and the current stocks of the commodities. This mechanism, the report said, would help the officers to monitor the chain of supply, prices and their hoarding across the province.
The Punjab government has made five controller generals from various departments to keep a check on the supply chain of essential commodities from various departments. Cane Commissioner has been made Controller General for sugar, DG Industries for ghee, Additional director Livestock for chicken, meat and eggs, Extra Assistant Director Agriculture at district level for vegetables and fruits while Director Food has been made controller general for flour.
According to the report, all the controller generals would be facilitated through an online portal with the help of PITB. After recording the submission of the law officer and report, Justice Shahid Jamil of the LHC adjourned further hearing of the case till April 4. Advocate Azhar Sidique had said that there was no mechanism to control the prices, to keep a check on the essential commodities, and as a result, the common man is suffering due to uncontrolled prices. He asked the court to direct the authorities concerned to take practical steps to ensure relief to the masses.