Thousands of people benefit from Utility Stores

ISLAMABAD: Thousands of people visit the Utility Stores (US) daily to take benefit from the subsidy offered by the government on essential food items during the holy month of Ramazan.The shoppers at G7 Markaz Utility Store, while talking to the media personnel said that most of the people prefer Utility Stores to buy essential food items due to subsidised rates. They said that the prices of various food items at the Utility Stores are comparatively less than the open market. Habibur Rehman, a shopper at a Utility Store lauded the government for announcing subsidy during Ramazan. Quality food items and non-food items are available in the Utility Stores which provide relief to the people, he added. Farhan, another visitor, purchasing flour from the Utility Store, said that the number of people visiting these stores has soared to manifold due to the lucrative offers by the government and the stores administration. A large number of men, women, and families could be seen standing in long queues on these Utility Stores. Ahmed Ali, a shopper claimed that few shopkeepers are involved in buying food items on subsidised rates from these Utility Stores and later selling them at their general stores.While talking to the media personnel, the Utility Store cashier said that the management of the Utility Store Corporations (USC) has imposed conditions for the selling the food items, such as, a person cannot buy dates more than two kilogrammes at a time that helps maintaining checks upon the shoppers. He said that the decision of restricted shopping has been imposed to avoid hoarders or shopkeepers who take advantage from the government fixed subsidy for the poor. A USC official said that the mechanism of the monitoring has also been imposed to watch the situation closely, and in this regard, inspection teams are formed to visit different Utility Stores without intimation.Moreover, in the anti-profiteering drive in the capital, the magistrates have imposed fines amounting to Rs 270,000 on the profiteers for over-charging and not displaying the rate lists of the food items during the last three days. According to reports, the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration has constituted 22 price-control committees headed by the magistrates for daily price checking during Ramazan. The ICT administration has fixed the prices of the essential commodities during the month of Ramazan and has issued a rate list to the shopkeepers for strict compliance. In this regard, Secretariat Assistant Commissioner Waqas Rashid carried out price checking in Bhara Kau, Noor Pur Shahan, and Athal, and imposed fines of Rs 53,000 on the profiteers. Assistant Director (Food) Muhammad Afzal conducted a crackdown on the profiteers in Lohi Bhair and apprehended two profiteers for overcharging on the food items. The officials directed the shopkeepers to display the rate list of the food items at the shops, failing which stern action would be taken against the defaulters. Similarly, the price-checking teams headed by AC (City) Kamran Cheema, AC (Sadar) Rabia Aurangzeb, AC (Shalimar) Shazia Qazi, AC (Rural) Maryam Mumtaz, Magistrate (City) Ghulam Murtaza Chandio, Secretariat Magistrate Ali Javed, and Magistrate (Rural) Nisha Ishtiak imposed heavy fines on the profiteers during price checking in their jurisdictions.

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