Chicken meat overcharging continues

LAHORE:The Punjab government Tuesday admitted failure of its writ for controlling the price hike and overcharging on chicken meat despite the agreement of fixing Rs260 per kg price of it for three Eid holidays. However, across the city, chicken meat was sold in the range of Rs350 to 400 per kg during the three days of Eid. Further, the market committee issued Rs306 per kg for chicken price for the first two Eid days (Sunday-Monday) and Rs260 per kg for Tuesday exposed the coordination among the government departments.

The market committee issued the rates in accordance with the available stocks in the markets. Likewise rest of the departments, the market committee also observed two Eid holidays so it issued a single price list of the chicken meat and other perishables, including fruits and vegetables for the first two days of the Eid (Sunday-Monday) and issued a revised new list on Tuesday in which rate of chicken was downwards to Rs260 per kg.

Market committee officials said that the wholesale fruit and vegetable market (Badami Bagh) and others were closed for the first two days of Eid so a single rate list was issued for consumers. However, a renewed rate list was issued on Tuesday as the business activities were resumed on Tuesday.

Interestingly, Punjab Minister for Industries and Trade Mian Aslam Iqbal had made “surprise visits” to some of the markets to check chicken meat price. But it was sold in the range of Rs350 to 400 per kg while the minister was unable to stop the overcharging even during visit shows the incompetency of the government to implement an agreed price of chicken meat in the city.

The minister along with the deputy commissioner instead of taking action against the overcharging and selling of chicken meat more than agreed price announced administrative action against the Pakistan Poultry Association after Eid. The minister said the association did not fulfill its commitment made with the Punjab government of selling chicken meat at Rs260 per kg. So the poultry industry should be ready for consequences of mis-commitment, the minister warned.

In the past, social media brigade backed by the PTI used to accuse former chief minister’s son Hamza Shahbaz for increase in chicken meat prices to extort the general public. However, now Hamza Shahbaz, also leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly, is in the NAB custody for a long time and question arises who is now behind increase in the chicken meat price. The government instead of taking action at the spot gave time to initiate action after Eid. Is any political person behind the increase in chicken meat rates or it is a simple demand and supply based market mechanism which also worked in the past.

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