The prime minister's call to the businessmen not to increase the prices of essentials during the month of Ramadan, including ones that are in high demand during the month like edible oil and sugar, echoes the heart of the people. We thank her for her timely call.
It is an unfortunate reality that the prices of essential food items start escalating keeping the month of fasting in mind, starting well before the start of the month. No economic theory can explain why that should be so when there is never a dearth of goods in the market, on the contrary there is always a glut. And unfortunately, every time the prices go up, pegging on the religious festivals, they hardly ever drop, and go up again the following year.
Prices have little to do with the market forces but everything to do with the greed of certain section of the traders who exploit the month without any qualms of conscience. We call upon these types of businessmen to resists their natural disposition to reap windfall profits during this month at the cost of huge public suffering.
We believe that along the PM's directive, several important measures should also be put in place. We know from past experience that the business community do hear but never heed the calls. In order that they act, the relevant agencies should set up a strong institutionalised mechanism for constant market oversight and punishment. The government should also ensure that there is adequate stock of these goods and, when and where necessary, intervene immediately to stabilise the market. After all, business must also be guided by some ethics.