The Utility Stores Corporation (USC) has increased prices of essential goods including flour, ghee, cooking oil. sugar and several other items, with immediate effect, further burdening the masses. A majority of the buyers have refused to accept the increase terming it unjustified and aimed at hurting limited income groups of the society. The USC was formed in 1971 under the directive of then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to make a large number of goods of everyday use available at lower prices under one roof. It was to make bulk procurement of goods at the time of harvesting to pass the benefit to the poor consumer.

For at least two decades, the USC had been fulfilling its responsibilities in line with its charter. But since transformed into a private limited company, it appears to be more concerned with profit-making and price hikes have become frequent, thus defeating the very idea of helping the poor meet their needs at affordable prices. There have been reports of overcharging and hoarding to make bigger gains. The concerned authorities must take serious note of these issues; otherwise the very purpose of such a facility would be undermined.