Sugar, Flour Sale In Ramazan Bazaars Below Estimates
LAHORE: The sale of sugar and flour on subsidised rates remained almost three times less than the projected estimates and reserved quota due to a meager subsidy and low quality of the products being provided, with citizens expressing their dissatisfaction over commodities being sold in 20 Sasta Ramazan Bazaars established by the City District Government Lahore.
Compared to last Sunday, this weekend a lesser number of citizens visited the Ramazan bazaars – further decreasing sale in these markets, Daily Times learnt on Sunday.
According to the available statistics, in the first 11 days of Ramazan, the city government has sold only 444,450 kilogrammes of sugar (8,889 sacks of 50 kg each) against an estimated 1,500,000 kilogrammes (30,000 sacks of 50 kg each) – showing a three times less sale, the primary reason for which has been claimed to the lack of public interest. Sugar was sold in Ramazan bazaars at a price of Rs 61 per kg against a market price of Rs 70 per kg. Another reason of the low sale figures of sugar was its low quality, with several claims coming forth that instead of cubic grains, this sugar had more of a powder look.
Of a total 8,889 sacks of 50 kilogrammes each, 1,560 sacks in the form of one to two kilogrammes of sugar were sold in Iqbal Town, 835 in Aziz Bhatti Town, 953 in Ravi Town, 1,112 in Shalamar Town, 693 in Samanabad, 706 in Wahga Town, 710 in Data Ganj Bakhsh Town, 755 in Gulberg and 582 in Nishtar Colony in the first 11 days of Ramazan.
For the provincial capital, a quota of 4,600 tonnes (92,000 sacks) had been reserved, however so far the sale is less than 9,000 sacks. On a daily basis, around 625 sacks are being sold and on Sundays, the number of sacks sold is less than 1,000.
Sources in the city government told Daily Times that against a quota of 92,000 sacks of sugar for the whole month, the government had so far received a supply of 26,000 sacks, which they estimated would be enough for the whole month.
So far 515,000 bags of flour weighing 10 kg each have been sold in 20 Ramazan bazaars against an estimated 1,260,000 bags, with 32,000 to 35,000 bags being sold against a daily quota of 90,000 bags on a daily basis.
The price of 10-kg bags of flour in these special markets has been fixed at Rs 200 compared to a market price of Rs 215.
District Officer (Environment) Tariq Zaman, who has been made the in-charge of flour supply at Ramazan bazaars, told Daily Times the quality of the flour was adequate. He said the demand would increase in the last week of Ramazan as per the trend of previous years, adding that hoarders would try to purchase flour in the last week. “To discourage such an effort, on their part last year the government had stopped the sale of flour three days before Eid,” he said, adding that last Sunday, 61,000 bags of flour were sold. However, he admitted that this Sunday the number of visitors was less compared to last week and there were chances of less sale of flour this week.
He said about 35,000 bags were being sold in Shalamar Town Parking Ground Ramazan Bazaar, while in the Shadbagh and Gulshan Ravi bazaars, around 2,000 bags were being sold on a daily basis. “Around 1,200 to 1,500 bags are sold in all other Ramazan bazaars of the city,” he said.
The Punjab government had announced a Rs 2 billion Ramazan Package in the provincial budget 2010-11 to give subsidy on various food items being provided in the Ramazan bazaars. However, keeping in view the high inflation rate during the last few months, these markets have failed to deliver.
On the first day of Ramazan, citizens purchased 45,000 10-kg bags of flour for Rs 200 each and 40,950 packets of one-kg sugar for Rs 61 each. from these bazaars.
On average, food items are available on a Rs 1-to-4 difference from market rates. However, a common complaint that has been noted in these bazaars is that even though the items being sold are priced lower than in markets, they are not worth it since they are of a very low quality.
In most of these markets, banners of members of national and provincial assemblies, and other politicians have been displayed to get political mileage. These banners give the impression that MPs have done a marvelous job for the welfare of citizens.
The various commodities being sold in the Ramazan bazaars were: basmati rice for Rs 65 against a market rate of Rs 70; gram flour for Rs 58 against a market price of Rs 65; dal masoor for Rs 110 against Rs 125; dal moong for Rs 98 against Rs 110; cooking oil for Rs 134 against Rs 138; Jam-e-shireen for Rs 110 against Rs 120; dry milk for Rs 430 against Rs 435; Lipton tea for Rs 490 against Rs 499; red chili for Rs 50 against Rs 55.