ISLAMABAD - Utility Stores Corporation (USC) outlets on Monday started selling food items at subsidised rates across the country under the Ramazan Relief Package 2017.

According to officials, the subsidy has been offered on more than 700 items.

This year, the government has intelligently reduced rates in such a way that the subsidised commodities could not be sold in open market.

Last year, the price on Chana was reduced to Rs 120 per kg and USC outlets officials sold the whole stock in the open market, where the price of Chana was up to Rs 200 per kilo, an official said.

He said that this year the price of Safaid Chana has been fixed at Rs 160 per kg whereas the open market rate of 1 kg Safaid Chana is around Rs 180.

This year, the discount has been offered on a wide range of items instead of slashing prices of Ramazan specific items, another official said.

He said that the rates of items have been reduced slightly as compared to the last year.

Last year, the Ramazan package items vanished from shelves in the first few days, but this year officials believe the supply was ample.

“We have enough supply and we would provide subsidy on all announced items till the end of Ramazan,” the official said.

Despite all government efforts to provide relief to general public many are unhappy.

The decrease is very minor, for example, a reduction of Rs 100 on 16 litres cooking oil, or per kilo Rs 10 reduction in low-quality rice is a joke, a buyer said.

Another buyer pointing out the price of dates at Rs 70 per half kg said that the subsidy on Ramazan specific items was very low as compared to the open market or the last year.

“I have saved around Rs 200 on my shopping of around Rs 3000, do you call it a subsidy,” another buyer said.

The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet, last week, approved subsidies worth Rs 1,602 million on 19 commodities to provide relief to the public in the holy month of Ramazan.

Many believe that in order to provide relief to masses in the holy month of Ramazan, the government should reduce rates of Ramazan specific items and instead of spending Rs 1.6 billion on luxury items or other products the whole amount should be spent on specific grocery and essential daily items.q