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All stakeholders, including representatives of manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, traders, custom house, KCCI and consumer protection organisations, should be members of a committee.

The committee should meet every month to fix the prices of essential commodities and take into consideration all the market forces that contribute to the cost of an item.

CONSUMER PROTECTION COUNCIL, Karachi

(Dawn-6, Letter to the Editor, 14/04/2007)

Milk sellers flouting SHC’s orders; overcharging clients for commodity

Despite the Sindh High Court’s (SHC’s) orders to sell milk at Rs32 per litre the retailers continue to overcharge, at Rs34 per litre. The rates fixed by the SHC are to hold good till May 8.

More than 50 percent of the retailers are not complying with the orders of the SHC and are selling the commodity at Rs34 per litre. Less than half of them are charging the SHC-mandated price of Rs32.

The Sindh High Court, vide a ruling last week, ordered milkmen not to sell the commodity at above the price of Rs32 per litre for 15 days. The stakeholders were asked to reach an amicable decision after consultation with the City District Government Karachi (CDGK), which indeed has appealed to the court to keep the prices at Rs30 per litre, which doesn’t seem to appeal to the sellers.

With the latest unauthorised increase in the milk prices in Karachi, the city came in line with Islamabad and Quetta after milk prices declined by Rs8 per litre in Khuzdar last week. Hafiz Nisar Gaddi, President, All-Karachi Milk Retailers Welfare Association, told The News that they would reach at a joint decision after May 8.

However, he said no talks were in the progress with the City Government. Confirming sale of the milk at prices higher than those authorised by the Sindh High Court, he hoped that the rates would be controlled in a day or two.

One retailer at Mahmoodabad told The News that since they were not getting milk at lower rates, they were unable to sell at the rate mentioned by the Sindh High Court. “We have paid Rs300,000 in advance to the dairy farmers and they are charging higher prices,” said the retailer. Gaddi confirmed that retailers had paid a month’s advance to the dairy farmers.

He said the wholesalers were charging them Rs32 per litre, which some of the shopkeepers were selling at Rs32 by incurring a loss. Retailers faced losses in terms of storing and packaging of the milk, he said.

“We are in a dispute with dairy farmers, as they are not providing milk to us at price notified by the by the Sindh High Court,” he said. Asif Qureshi, Vice-President, Dairy Farmers Association, Karachi, remained pessimistic about reaching an agreement with the CDGK.

He said the city government had filed an appeal a day earlier in the court to fix the retail price at Rs30 per litre. Qureshi denied whether dairy farmers were selling milk at Rs32, “we are selling at Rs29 per litre instead”, he said.

However, he said they were not directly selling to the small shop owners but to the middlemen, who kept their commission. They get a month’s advance from the middlemen who forwarded milk to the retailers, he said. The middlemen, he speculated, might be taking advance from the retailers accordingly.

Qureshi suggested if rates of the milk were changed every quarter, there would be less hue and cry. He said their cost was Rs37 per litre but the semi-government organisations like Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) had estimated it around Rs33 to 34. He said though they were demanding retail price at Rs36 per litre, the retailers would accept Rs34. In the other case, there would be further arrests but no decline in the prices, he said.

(By Shahid Shah, The News-13, 17/04/2007)

SHC stays transfer of PTCL assets

KARACHI, April 17: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday stayed the transfer of immovable assets of the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited to Etisalat, purchaser of 26 per cent of PTCL shares, and issued notices to the federal government, Privatisation Commission, Etisalat and other respondents for May 15.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Sabihuddin Ahmed and Justice Gulzar Ahmed also directed the Privatisation Commission to inform the court about the payment of bid money made by the new purchaser.

The privatisation deal has been challenged by Haji Khan Bhatti, president of the PTCL Lions Staff Union, through advocate M. A. K. Azmati. The petitioner says there was no justification for privatisation of 26 per cent shares of a profit-earning public sector concern of strategic importance. The shares have been sold cheap and when the purchaser failed to pay the instalments in US dollars, the commission and the government agreed to accept payments in the rupee over a period of five years. Obviously, the price would be paid from the earnings of the PTCL. The deal, the petitioner said, was non-transparent because the bargain had not been made public.

The petitioner said the PTCL owned prime immovable property all over Pakistan. The property could not be transferred to Etisalat because it had only purchased 26 per cent shares of the company. He sought an interim injunction against the transfer of the assets to Etisalat. The entire process of privatisation and subsequent transaction was repugnant to Article 173 of the Constitution, which empowered federal and provincial governments to acquire or transfer property, he said and requested the court to set it aside.

(By Shujaat Ali Khan, Dawn-1, 18/04/2007)

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