CM’s warning fails to help cut tomato, onion prices

KARACHI: The strict warning given by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday for bringing down prices of vegetables and taking profiteers to task did not provide any relief to consumers on Thursday.

Consumers continued to pay Rs70-80 per kg for onion while tomato price which was prevailing at Rs200 per kg on Tuesday crawled down to Rs160 much before Wednesday’s meeting of the CM with the officials concerned.

On Thursday, retailers were seen selling tomato at Rs140-160 per kg depending on the quality.

Consumers are currently getting onions from Balochistan, Iran and Kazakhstan

The vice chairman of the Market Committee Karachi Division, Asif Ahmed, claimed tomato price in retail markets, including superstores and posh localities, were still ruling at Rs180-240 per kg despite drop in its wholesale price to Rs110-120 per kg on Thursday from Rs160-170 per kg on Monday.

He said the higher-ups in the Sindh government and the commissioner office have not taken any steps to ensure reduction in prices in the retail markets despite drop in the wholesale prices.

“The Sindh government has not played any role in bringing down the wholesale prices. Tomato’s wholesale price has actually come down due to an increase in arrival from Iran, India and Balochistan,” he said.

When asked about the closure of Iranian border on the eve of Ashura for security reasons and its impact on tomato and onion prices, he said the Iranian border was open till then.

“In case of Iran-Pakistan border closure, tomato and onion will continue to arrive from other areas,” he added.

He said he could not confirm the actual arrival of imported tomato but it was estimated that some 15-20 trucks carrying 20 tonnes each had been arriving daily for the last three days at various upcountry destinations.

Asif claimed the wholesale rate of tomato at Karachi’s main vegetable market had so far been the cheapest as compared to the wholesale rate prevailing at variousmarketsof various cities of the country.

He said the wholesale onion price had been pegged at Rs50 per kg for the last over one week and its retail price hovered between Rs70 and Rs80 per kg in the metropolis.

The new Sindh crop of tomato will hit the markets by the middle of next month followed by new Sindh crop of onion. Consumers are currently getting onions from Balochistan, Iran and Kazakhstan.

The Sindh government woke up late and it should have taken serious notice when retail prices of tomato rose to Rs50-60 per kg from Rs30-40 per kg prior to Eidul Azha followed by a jump in onion price to Rs60 from Rs30 per kg.

Consumers had paid up to Rs120 per kg for onion during the Eidul Azha days.