Punjab introduces legislation to check profiteering amid rising inflation
Price Control of Essential Commodities Ordinance 2023 carries jail term and fine for culprits
LAHORE (Web Desk) – Amid the rising inflation and the government failure to check the market manipulators who increase the rates of daily use items for profiteering, the Punjab government at last has sprung into action by introducing a new legislation which carries imprisonment and fine as a punishment for the culprits.
It is the Punjab Price Control of Essential Commodities Ordinance 2023 – promulgated by Governor Balighur Rehman under the powers conferred under Clause (1) of Article 128 of the Constitution – which is meant to ensure implementation of effective mechanisms for fixing the prices of essential commodities, control artificial price hike and profiteering in the province.
The move comes as there is no control over the prices of food and items in the market with the retailors and vendors selling these commodities way above the officially fixed rates. For instance, the consumers are being currently charged at least 20 per cent to 25 per cent more than the official prices shared daily.
On the other hand, the prices of different packed items are being hiked at an alarming rate. Example, the 50-gram hot spices (gram masala) packet of National Foods was previously available for Rs150, but it is now priced at Rs290 – an almost 100pc hike in one go.
COMMITTEES AT DISTRICT AND PROVINCIAL LEVELS
To check this trend, the Punjab Price Control of Essential Commodities Ordinance will enable formation of Price Control Council and district price control committees with the deputy commissioner of the district concerned serving as the controller of prices and supplies.
Meanwhile, the secretary industries, commerce, investment and skills development will be the provincial controller general.
As far as the Price Control Council is concerned, it will be formed at the provincial level with the minister for industry and commerce as its chairman.
On the other hand, the deputy commissioner will notify the District Price Control Committee in his respective district, which is assigned the task to review the prices of essential commodities. It will monitor the action under the Ordinance for price control and issue instructions to ensure implementation of the provisions of the Ordinance.
No person shall sell any essential commodity at a price higher than the fixed price and shall display the list of fixed prices at a prominent point of sale point.
Any person who contravenes any of the provisions of the Ordinance shall be liable to imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, but it shall not be less than 24 hours or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or with both.
If a person is again convicted of an offence, he shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not less than one month or to a fine of Rs45,000 or to both.
Any producer, dealer, importer or seller of aggrieved by the order of Controller of Prices and Supplies can file an appeal within seven working days of the passing of such order to the relevant divisional commissioner whose decision would be final.