LAHORE

Only a day after the Punjab government and the ghee manufacturers agreed on partially decreasing the cooking oil and ghee prices to ensure availability to the public, the oil dealers’ mafia has become active again and stockists have gone for hoarding, causing short supply of ghee and as well as cooking oil in open markets as well as Sunday bazaars.

The major ghee and cooking oil brands of multinational companies including Unilever, Habib, Kisan, Talu and Soofi etc were disappeared not only from almost all Sunday Bazaars but also from open market. Ghee and oil disappeared fast from the shelves in Punjab as government’s decision to cut back the price of ghee by record 15 rupees per kilo has triggered a hoarding trend in the province, retailers said.

In open market, only substandard and unregistered ghee brand were available also with short supply. Shopkeepers were complaining of wholesale dealers and ghee millers who have stopped the supply. Some shopkeepers also shouted against Shahbaz government, blaming the CM for artificial shortage of ghee.

 The ghee was available though at high rate but government efforts to cut its rate by Rs15 per kg has created shortage like situation, said a vendor at Shadman Sunday bazaar.

He said that the dealers’ mafia has beaten the government to pass on benefit of cut in raw material prices to consumers in Lahore along with other cities of the province. The hoarders in the wholesale market have cut off the supply of vegetable oil leading to its scarcity in all markets and bazaars.

The people have urged the government to implement the revised prices in accordance with the announcement made earlier. They said that the hoarders and illicit profiteers have created a shortage of cooking oil. The visitors lauded Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif for reduction in prices of ghee and cooking oil, terming it a great move which will benefit majority of the population. Other provinces should also follow Punjab and provide relief to masses, they said.

The prices of edible oil reduced by Rs 15 per kg in Punjab therefore its price must be reduced by Rs 20 in Sindh as units located there saves transportation and other costs.  They said that profiteers are exploiters and public enemies who increase prices within hours if price of any input is increased while refuse to transfer benefit to masses if input costs go down, which is a reason behind inflation.

They said that fine of one hundred thousand rupees on ghee units for violating Punjab government orders may not deter many bloodsuckers. Many cooking oil manufacturers are not producing according to the specifications to make extra profits which must be noticed and offenders must be brought to the book.

Regretting silence of business community over plunder by Vanaspati sector, they said that they are not considering national interests by interests of their community.

In Sunday bazaars, customers were struggling to find ghee and oil at an economic price. The factory owners limited the production in their factories causing the apparent shortage. Apparently, the owners of ghee producing factories had accepted the govt decision on Saturday night to decrease the price wholeheartedly. According to sources, if government does not take factory owners into confidence, the market might face shortage of ghee in a similar fashion as petrol did some two months back.  

Meanwhile, the prices of vegetables and fruits decreased at Sunday bazaars and prices of almost all vegetables including onions, potatoes, tomatoes, ginger and garlic reduced. In fruits, the prices of apples, guava and bananas decreased.