The district administration has started monitoring auctions at wholesale markets of fruit and vegetables to bring prices down to a reasonable limit.

In this connection, DCO Dr Irshad Ahmad, ADC-G Mian Jameel Ahmad, DOC Nazar Muhammad Baloch and AC Chiniot Shumaila Manzoor visited various markets to confine rates to a reasonable limit. Their visits have brought prices of vegetables down to some extent but still there is room for improvement.

According to market committee price fixation procedures, inspectors monitor the wholesale auctions of commodities and fix the average prices of commodities. However, the brokers and middlemen continue profiteering by artificially bringing prices much higher after greasing the palm of market committee staff who fix the prices high, sources said.

Thus, no government agency including magistrates and price control committees could interfere in the prices fixed by the market committees. Keeping in view the situation, the district administration visited these markets. In two days of monitoring, the prices of essential commodities have come down up to 50% in retail market. The price of tomato has dropped from Rs200 to Rs110 per kg; Onion from Rs70 to 50/kg; garlic Rs200 to 130; potato from Rs50 to 40/kg; and green chilli from Rs100 to 60/kg.

In fruit, apple price has changed from Rs100 to 70/kg; pomegranate from Rs200 to 160 and banana from Rs50 to 40 a dozen. Although common citizens and retail shopkeepers have expressed a sigh of relief on this intervention, the brokers criticised the move. They said that price fixation is sole authority of market committee inspectors with no interference of district administration.

Nasir Ali, who runs a fruit and vegetable kiosk at Mohallah Thatti Gharib, said that retailers have slight margin and prices are fixed by wholesalers.

Uzma Shahzadi, a household woman, said that although vegetables prices of dropped to some extent but it must be permanent and there is still room for improvement and turning prices further down especially of tomato and onion.

Raja Riaz Ahmad, whose ancestors own a brokerage shop since creation of Pakistan, said that when Pakistan was formed, majority of the business community of Chiniot were Hindus who migrated to India and vacuum was filled by Mahajirs when they immigrated to Pakistan. He said that prices are determined through supply and demand in the market with free flow. He said that they were ready to cooperate with the administration for keeping prices in reach of the common man but if they forced us to down it artificially, there will be scarcity of goods in Chiniot market. Citizens have felicitated the move and demanded it must not be for a short term but should sustain forever.