The government’s promulgated ordinance against hoarding of essential commodities amidst the spread of coronavirus aims to promote general economic fairness and minimise the economic damage that people are sustaining because of the lockdown. Bringing in the ordinance was necessary, given the fact that many were busy exploiting the citizens’ requirement of essential commodities.

The newly-introduced ordinance shows that the government is coming up with a firm policy against hoarders as the culprits will face imprisonment up to three years and have to pay a fine up to 50 percent of the value of items they were hoarding, alongside confiscation. Taking a strong stance was necessary to protect economically vulnerable segments of the population and ensure the regulation of the manufacture and supply of certain products to safeguard the well-being of the general public.

This ordinance will help normalise the prices of essential commodities that are skyrocketing every passing day. Increasing prices of basic commodities at a time when the government is plugging in money into price stabilisation means that the public suffers and the government has essentially put funds into a fruitless endeavour.

However, it is equally essential to ask how the government will go after the dealers who will not practice hoarding in the open. While this ordinance empowers the special magistrate to take notice of a crime, there is much vagueness in the text. Finding hoarders in the absence of local governments will prove a monumental task. While we can hope that the incentives to the whistleblowers may do the trick for the government, serious consideration must be given to bringing back the local governance system. Only a robust grassroots level set-up will prove to be the most efficient tool in dealing with all problems stemming out of coronavirus.