ISLAMABAD - The provincial govern­ments need to reinforce the existing market mon­itoring mechanisms at district level to ensure that citizens are not fleeced under the garb of lockdown especial­ly during Ramazan, said Weekly Market Moni­tor issued by Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) yesterday.

It said that despite no wide-scale shortage of essential commodities reported in the country, sporadic incidents of lax enforcement of officially notified prices, and un­availability of govern­ment rate lists allegedly compromises the gov­ernment’s resolve to en­sure basic provisions to citizens at affordable rates.

Nevertheless, district administrations have ef­fectively ensured the es­sential food supplies in most parts of country during pre-Ramazan pan­demic period. However, unavailability of official rate lists remains a major issue in several districts of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and Sindh. The technological solutions for making offi­cial price lists available to public – such as ‘Darust Daam’ and ‘Qeemat Pun­jab’ apps – can help tack­le this issue.

The FAFEN’s market survey suggests that the disruptions in flour sup­ply due to restrictions on inter-province movement of wheat affected the prices in wholesale mar­ket in various districts.

In Punjab, the flour prices were as high as Rs. 830 in Gujranwala and Sialkot against the offi­cial price of Rs. 805 for a 20 kilogram bag.

In Sindh, a 20 kilogram wheat bag was sold at Rs. 1,000 in wholesale markets of Kashmore, Jacobabad and Dadu against an official price of around Rs. 900.

Similar was the situ­ation in Khuzdar and Dera Bugti where a 20 kilogram flour bag was sold at Rs. 1,000.

In Khyber Pakhutnkh­wa, the highest flour price for a 20 kilogram bag was Rs. 975 in Lower Kohistan while the prov­ince had an official price around Rs. 800.

Official sugar prices oscillated between Rs. 70 and Rs. 83 in Punjab. FAFEN observer from Ba­hawalpur noted markets charging Rs. 10 above of­ficially notified per kilo­gram price of sugar in the district, which is the highest difference be­tween official and whole­sale price in the province.

Similarly, Sindh report­ed official sugar prices varying between Rs. 64 in Karachi and Rs. 70 in Kashmore.

The highest differ­ence between official and wholesale price was re­ported Rs. 9 from Tando Muhammad Khan.

Observers from KP re­ported that sugar was sold at Rs. 85 in Abbot­tabad and Lower Dir while its official prices remained between Rs. 70 and Rs. 81 in the prov­ince. Balochistan markets also fared the same with highest wholesale price of Rs. 85 reported from Khuzdar and Kohlu.

The biggest difference between official and market prices of chick­en in Punjab was Rs. 20, reported from Gujran­wala. In the rest of the province, no major devi­ation from official rates was reported. Minimum poultry price remained Rs. 100 and maximum Rs. 146 per kilogram in the province. The mar­ket price of chicken was higher than official price in Balochistan’s district Dera Bugti as well.

In Khyber Pakhtunkh­wa, Lower Kohistan and Upper Dir sold chicken at Rs. 10 above the offi­cial per kilogram price. In Karachi, market price of chicken was reported to be Rs. 14 above the of­ficial price. The enforce­ment of officially notified prices of routine vege­tables varied across the country. FAFEN observ­ers noted potatoes being sold at increased prices in Shikarpur, Dadu, Ba­din, Okara, Gujranwa­la, Lower Kohistan, and South Waziristan.

The market prices of potatoes were Rs. 10 to Rs. 14 higher than the of­ficial prices in these dis­tricts. Similarly, the ob­servers reported onion being sold at costly pric­es in Gujranwala, Sialkot, Hafizabad, Dera Bugti, Kohlu, Dadu, Shikarpur, D.I. Khan and South Wa­ziristan.

Their market prices were up from the official prices by Rs. 5 to Rs. 22 per kilogram.