CAPD: Headless Chicken
Any festive occasion is a call from market. We all know what it means to markets when an occasion like Eid falls. Unlike some civilised societies Eid is an occasion for our markets to cut more harshly into our pockets. Not just the arrangement of markets is a cause of concern, but the quality of products and their rates also are a source of worry. As if the markets have to go off for the rest of the year that all earnings have to be ensured in some days that proceed the occasions like Eid. The statement might not be true for all in the market and everything on the shelves, but the general impression is that the day doesnít belong to customers. The gossips that brew on such occasion are replete with references to how markets in the West offer discounts on festive occasions. But here prices normally go up not to speak of any discounts. Now these generalized statements may need some scrutiny but the message that they convey is bang on. Our markets and our traders never respond in ways that could be customer friendly. The relation between market and customer in our valley is always that of mistrust and cheating. In such a situation it is very difficult to regularize the prices and ensure the quality of goods. However, there is always a scope to minimise the trouble that the customers are being subjected to. An elaborate, and spread over a reasonable time span, policy of intervention from the government side is urgently needed in Kashmir. But unfortunately it is missing. The performance of CAPD, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution is dismal on this count. One, the intervention from this wing of government comes in bouts. Itís never consistent. The result of this inconsistency is that markets know how to circumvent an occasional intervention from the department. Second, it becomes a convenient source of corruption. Shopkeepers can grease a palm and sell the way they want to. This is something that is not an armchair conclusion, but a common observation in the market. Another undesired effect of this knee jerk response from the government side is that it fails to be in sync with the market reality. Rather than bringing the prices down and making markets customer friendly it yields results that only compound the problem. Now take the example of this Eid. It was announced that mutton and chicken should be sold on particular rates. Since the prices fixed by the government were less than what was prevalent in the market, it didnít go well with the traders. Things were sold in flagrant contravention to government orders. Finally when the imposition of the government rates became a problem for the sellers, they declined to do the commerce. For them government prices were even less than their purchase rates. Anyone can make the calculation and find the impossibility of trade in such a situation. A day before Eid when people went to buy chickens, the most sought after thing on Eid, markets were empty. True, that Eid can be celebrated without chickens. But it indicates the inefficiency of a department like CAPD. If they cannot ensure that a particular rate can be followed how they can fix it! And if their rates result in the termination of business it means there must be some serious problem! Why should a shopkeeper stop selling chickens when he knows that this was the day of huge sale! These are genuine questions that arise. Why before acting there are no efforts to take the dealers into confidence and convince them on the suitability of the prices. It is needed that prices should remain under control but it is no solution that provisions disappear from markets. At least CAPD could have distributed the truckloads to retail points at a rate that could make their intervention productive. On an occasion when every household wants to have chicken, you can not identify numbered points of sale. You must enter the market at a scale that matches the demand.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 17 Nov 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 17 Nov 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 18 Nov 2010 00:00:00 IST
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