The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has categorically declared that it is extremely difficult and impracticable to enforce uniform prices of essential food commodities at retail level.
About the fixation of prices at the wholesale level, the CCP report revealed that the analysis of data received from various districts indicates that it has been extremely difficult and impracticable to enforce uniform prices at retail level.
The prices specified in the rate list are rarely followed due to the fact that there is a huge disparity in the cost of doing business for each retailer. Shop rents and other operating expenses vary from retailer to retailer and from market to market. Furthermore, in case the wholesalers are increasing prices or limiting supplies, it is impractical for the retailer to follow the price list.
Some retailer associations expressed concerned that they cannot follow official rate lists because wholesalers increase their prices. Practically the only places where these rate lists are being observed are the 'weekly bazaars' set up by the district/tehsil administration or at the 'mandis'. Enforcement of retail prices has also proved to be expensive and difficult because it involves thousands of retailers within a single district. Enforcing rates at the wholesale level in comparison would be easier since most wholesalers of a particular commodity are usually located in 'mandis' or similar vicinity and have relatively uniform operating cost and business models.
For determining prices at wholesale level, a standardized format should be adopted at provincial level. The formula/format may be determined by the respective provincial agriculture department with input from provincial industries department. Ministry of National Food Security & Research (MNFSR) may also provide input from a national perspective to the provincial departments and Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) may provide all relevant statistics, particularly international trends in the prices of relevant essential items.
It is suggested that the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) may establish a data center and allow access to the relevant departments to the required data, the CCP added.