Pajhwok Afghan News

Kabul Municipality fined, closed some shops for overpricing

KABUL (Pajhwok): Kabul Municipality has closed and fined a number of grocery stores for overpricing while shopkeepers termed the new price list as unfair and said the list should be updated twice a week.

About two weeks ago, Kabul Municipality prepared and distributed a price list of 18 items for controlling the price in the market.

Based on the list, the price of 49 kilograms of Kazakhstani flour is 2,190 afgahins, 24.5 kilograms of Pakistani rice is 2,530 afghanis, 49 kilograms of Pakistani sugar is 2,830 afgahnis and a tin of 16 liters of ghee 2,530 afghanis.

Shopkeepers who are unsatisfied about the price list say that the list was prepared two weeks ago when the rates of items were low, but current rates are increased again.

They say that in the recent days, 49 kilograms of Kazakhstani flour cost 2,400afs, 24.5 kilograms of Pakistani rice 2,650afs, 49 kilograms of Pakistani sugar 2,830afs and a tin of16 liter of ghee 2,700afs, which purchased from wholesalers.

Shahpour Khairkhwah, a food items seller in Tahia Maskan area of Kabul, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the Commission for Prevention of Hoarding and Price Control of Primary Items had set the price list on March 17.

He said that the commission distributed a price list on the market two weeks ago.

He criticized the price list and said that the rates of food items were not fixed and they change over time.

Kabul Municipality should prepare and distribute the price list to shopkeepers twice a week considering to changing rates, he said.

“Kabul Municipality is enforcing the tariff of two weeks ago while the prices of two weeks ago were different from today’s prices,  there is a change of 50 to 200afs change in the price of each item, we cannot bear losses,” Khairkhwah said.

In the recent days, Kabul Municipality has closed a number of shops for selling items on high prices besides they were fined by 1,000afs, he said.

“Compared to two weeks ago, the price of food items has risen, and if we sell our goods according to the price list of a few weeks ago, we will suffer loss instead of making profit,” he said.

He said that bag of flour sold for 2,190afs two weeks ago compared to 2,400afs now while the prices of most food items are increased.

He said that the government should pressure national traders instead of shopkeepers to reduce prices.

Payandah, a shopkeeper in Kabul city, said that, his shop was closed two days ago due to violation of the price list.

Shopkeepers are not against the price list, but the list should be updated more frequently based on daily rates, he said.

He said that dozens of shops have been closed based on their violation of a price list prepared two weeks ago.

“We buy a bag of Kazakhstani flour for 2,400 afghanis and a tin of ghee for 2,750 afghanis; but the price list which prepared two weeks ago set the 2,190 afghanis and 2,530 afghanis for the mentioned items respectively,” he said.

If the price list is not updated on time, many people would close their shops, he said.

Zamarai Safi, head of Kabul Food Traders Union, praised the caretaker government’s move for price control, but  said that the price list should be prepared the way that should not cause losses to shopkeepers.

He said that current price list method was unfair and the reason of such problems was due to presence of unprofessional figures in relevant government organs.

He termed the commission’s performance flawed , saying it did not consult with professionals, especially trade unions about the price list.

Safi said that the issue has been shared with the relevant organs several times, but no practical action was taken to resolve it.

About the reason of hiking prices, he said that Russia and Ukraine conflict was one of the major reasons. He said that the price control was essential, but it should be controlled from trade companies.

The governing government should invest and buy independently from countries in order to control the market rate as well as create cooperatives, emergency reserves, oil reserves and oil tanks for price control, he said.

Head of Chamber of Commerce and Investment, Mohammad Younus Momand, told Pajhwok that there were some issues in the prices of some primary items.

He said that the issue has been shared with the Price Check Committee of the chamber in order to make the list in accordance to global rates.

However, Niamatullah Barakzai, Kabul Municipality spokesman, said that the that the rates were prepared by the Commission for the Prevention of Hoarding and Price Control in consultation with representatives of all markets.

“The price list is definitely not harming shopkeepers, but they should take less benefit,” he said.

He said that if goods are sold on higher prices than the price list, then shopkeepers should refer to the commission for resolving the issue.

Mds/nh

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