LAHORE - Prices of essential food products and major vegetable items remained stable but overcharging continued to persist in Sunday bazaars as well as in the open market as no vendor in any market was following government price list in provincial capital.

This week the potato price was fixed at Rs20 in Sunday bazaars and Rs21 per kg in open market but it was being sold at Rs25 per kg in both markets. Onion rate was fixed at Rs17 and Rs18 per kg in open market but vendors of both markets were selling it for Rs25 per kg and no official was checking them for overcharging.

Tomato price was fixed at Rs39 and Rs40 per kg in Sunday Bazaars and open market respectively but it was not available at official rate and being sold at Rs50 per kg in open market while it was not available in most of Sunday bazaars.

Some slight drop in few eatables rates was registered as chicken was being sold at Rs194 per kg against Rs215 per kg, eggs at Rs110 per dozen against Rs118 per dozen of last week. This week cabbage was being sold at Rs25 per kg, bitter gourd at Rs110 per kg, brinjal at Rs 40 per kg, cucumber at Rs65 per kg, green chili at Rs75 per kg, green peas at R80 per kg, ginger at Rs145 per kg and garlic at Rs195 per kg.

Rates of other kitchen items also remained stable during the week as rate of sugar hovered at around Rs55 per kg, pulse Masoor washed at Rs150 per kg, pulse Moong washed at Rs180 per kg, pulse Mash washed at Rs165 per kg, different qualities of rice were being sold at Rs70-130 per kg, vegetable ghee loose at Rs125-1180 per kg, mutton at Rs650 and fish at Rs230-380 per kg.

Fruit prices also remained almost unchanged during the week as compared to the preceding week as bananas were being sold at Rs60-90 per dozen, apple at Rs60-140 per kg, kinoo at Rs60-120 per dozen, fruiter at Rs50-80 per dozen and guava at Rs65-80 per kg. The rates of vegetables and fruits sold in Sunday bazaars are almost the same as in the open market. This puts a big question mark on the performance of the government, which had set up these makeshift markets with a view to providing relief to the public. Visit to the Sunday bazaar reveals that the prices of most fruits and vegetables were the same as in the open market; and even if some items were cheaper, their quality was questionable. Though a few products were available in Sunday bazaars at cheaper rates than in the open market, the majority of commodities were actually being sold at higher prices there.

The prices of lady finger, bitter gourd, potato, tomato, cucumber, cauliflower and onion were almost the same in both Sunday bazaars and the open market. However, some products such as ginger and garlic were available at lower prices in Sunday bazaars as compared with the open market. It was also observed that the vendors did not allow the buyers to sort out and pick fruits and vegetables of their choice.

Customers at the Islam Pura Sunday Bazaar said that there was no difference between rates of the open market and government-established Sunday bazaars. They said that the government only wasted its energies and resources in establishing Sunday bazaars. The Punjab government always invests in useless ventures. There is no need for such bazaars where the prices are the same as in the open market, they added.