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Poverty stricken Pakistan to face tougher Ramzan over skyrocketing prices, chicken consumption becomes weekly affair for many

Amid severe economic crisis, prices of food times have increased by at least 50% in Pakistan and because of loan conditions, government is not even in position to subsidise them for the middle class and poor.

This year, Ramazan in Pakistan will be tougher than previous years for many low and middle-income group people due to skyrocketing prices, Pakistan-based Dawn newspaper reported. 

During Ramazan, after over 12 hours of fasting, people try to enjoy lavish iftar by arranging many items. But many people with mediocre wages and salaries are likely to limit their purchases this year, according to Dawn. The responsibility thus lies with the government to ensure the availability of edible items at cheaper rates not only throughout the year but especially in the holy month. 

It is, however, hard to expect any special measures to bring price relief, as the government continues to remain engaged in political and economic chaos and hopes for approval of the International Monetary Fund loan (IMF). 

The Pakistan government is not in any position to offer any huge subsidies or duty/taxes relaxations to lower prices. Any efforts to curtail prices by lowering taxes and duties may irk the IMF ahead of loan approval. 

And a price fall of 10-20 per cent will not appease consumers unless they plummet by at least 30-40 pc. 

General Secretary Karachi Retail Grocers Group Farid Qureishi, as quoted by Dawn, said “I am making two types of ration packs for charity distribution for Ramazan in the holy month: one bag costs Rs 4,000 and carries flour, sugar, rice, pulses, tea, salt, oil and ghee, gram and vermicelli. The other ration bag costs Rs 6,000 and has more quantity of products.” 

“Last Ramazan, we managed these items at 40-50 pc lower rates,” he said, adding that “we could not add rice as good quality basmati rice sells between Rs 300-500 per kg now as compared to Rs 150-300 per kg last year,” he added. 

A chicken dealer in Federal B Area said, “I am putting only four crates carrying 40 live birds as compared to eight crates when prices were low. Due to high prices, many of our regular customers just buy only one bird for the entire week’s consumption from two to three birds previously.” 

A grocery retailer in a residential area who offers products on credit on the condition that the bill is cleared in a month, said: “I have witnessed at least 20-30 per cent jump in my register in the last year as more new people are coming up to get included in the list.” 

He added that due to the cash flow situation, he cannot add more people. Many also default and seek extra time to clear dues.

He said there are many people whose salaries fade away in the middle of the month. 

According to Dawn, the intensity of price increases in food items may push many low-income people towards long queues of welfare organisations’ arrangements of free Iftari and Sehri. However, a white-collar person may find it difficult to sacrifice his self-respect and opt for limiting Iftar. 

(This news report is published from a syndicated feed. Except for the headline, the content has not been written or edited by OpIndia staff)

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