On all such occasions where people are expected to shop more than usual, the chances of over pricing go up.
The month of Ramadhan also is a time when certain items in the market find enhanced sales. So the likelihood of markets exploiting the customers is always more.
The news story that “ahead of Ramadhan essential commodities being sold on exorbitant rates” in this newspaper, confirms our apprehensions. The question here is very simple and straight. Why can’t we have an effective market inspection system that ensures that there was no exploitation of customers.
What are the systemic faults that this problem of overpricing and other malpractice don’t go away from our markets. Although it doesn’t apply to the entire market, but there are certain elements that resort to such wrong ways of doing a transaction.
The enforcement wings tasked with inspecting the markets and curbing such practices need to gear up and ensure that the prices of commodities are not arbitrarily fixed.
The market inspections done by the teams of the concerned authorities need to instil a degree of confidence in the customers. But this can only happen if the market inspections are regular and effective. We know that such inspections are few and far between.
It allows the erring elements in the market to violate rules with a degree of impunity. This results in a general sense that overpricing doesn’t bring any consequences and hence it can routinely be done.
Had the concerned authorities been active and consistent with market checks no one would dare to exploit a customer.
The one odd visit that happens on special occasions may earn the concerned officials some news coverage, but it doesn’t do the needful. It is only a dedicated and efficient vigil on markets that can ensure that vendors stick to proper rates.
What also can help the concerned authorities is to sensitise the traders’ associations on such matters. There are well meaning traders and associations that can be roped in to assist in fighting such malpractices.
What can also help in this is a general public outreach through media, developing an interface with the public at large. If people have a easy way to complaint about cases of overpricing, it can deliver good results.