The sale and purchase of essential commodities continued unchecked as the local administration of the provincial capital did not have a sufficient number of price control magistrates and the relevant staff.
The vendors and shopkeepers have been minting money by ignoring the official rate lists issued by the authorities concerned. A survey conducted by MinuteMirror showed that the shopkeepers and the vendors charge prices of their own choice and do not follow the official rates in the local markets, causing serious trouble to the citizens. The edibles and other items are being sold at high prices in the local shops and the markets.
“I went to buy tomatoes and it was around Rs400 per kilogram,” said Azam Khan, a resident of the Shadman area. He said there was no rate list on the shop he visited in the local market and when he asked the grocery shop owner about the rate list he started to make lame excuses. Another citizen said that the shopkeepers and the vendors are looting them by demanding prices of their own choice. “Where are the price control magistrates? Whereas I’m concerned I have not seen even a single magistrate so far in my area,” a resident of Islampura area while raising questions over the vigilance of the local administration.
According to the sources, 70 price control magistrates are working in the provincial capital to keep a check on the prices of the commodities in the local markets. “The markets have swollen to countless numbers in these years and practically, 70 magistrates are insufficient to visit all the markets, conduct raids and check the prices,” said official seeking anonymity. He said Lahore’s population was now over 120 million while shops and markets have also increased with the passage of time but the magistrates and their strength are quite small that they cannot cater to the needs.
The negligence on the part of the authorities concerned has badly affected the tall claims of the provincial government to control the sky-rocketing prices of the essential commodities as previously both the Hamza’s administration as well as of the Buzdar’s and now Elahi’s administration badly failed to control the prices. All the said administrations have also ignored the very important aspect of recruiting more price magistrates to maintain its writ and to ensure the protection of consumers’ rights in the provincial capital and other parts of the province.
“The lower staff of the magistrates is also under huge burden because there is no proper staff for price controlling,” said the official, adding that the present lower staff was forced to do double duties. “The supportive staff members work with the magistrate and also work at the office, so they do double jobs,” the sources said, pointing out that the proper magistrates were also not there in the field as sometimes a Tehsildar is assigned the role of “price control magistrate”.
Besides it, the price control magistrates also perform their duties in a slow way and rarely visit the assigned areas to check over the prices of the commodities. When the Deputy Commissioner Office of Lahore was asked about the shortage of price control magistrates in the city, the Spokesperson said, “I don’t know about the magistrates but we have written to the higher authorities for hiring of the other lower staff.”