What people think about ‘Sasta Bazaars’
By Yasir Ilyas
Besides irritants around governance and management issues, the governments of the people by the people try to benefit masses through various welfare plans such as setting up of ‘Sasta Bazaars’ (market on subsidized rate). The People here generally hailed the initiative though with some reservations while talking to INFN survey team.
The Punjab Government has set up ‘Sasta Bazaars’ to provide edibles and other utility items at subsidized and controlled rates to consumer in different localities of Rawalpindi. Fruits, vegetables, meat, chicken, pulses, rice, flour and other utility items are sold at controlled rates under monitoring of officials of Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA).
Ehtisham Abbasi, a consumer at such a bazaar set up outside Public Park (commonly known as Nawaz Sharif Park) said, “These bazaars are a better option, we can buy easily any thing of our need at discounted rates. This seems to be an organized Bazaar with a proper tent, power supply and wide space to move and shop.”
Aaliya Irum, a house wife, though complained about rates of some items, but termed these bazaars better than utility stores where one has to face great humiliation to get a single bag of sugar.
She said, “At this bazaar, I do not have to wait in long queue to buy any commodity. If there is rush on one stall, we can easily move to another stall and then can come back. Though rates are not as low as people expected and compared to open market, but still I think such bazaars should remain open for whole year at least on bi-weekly basis being better than utility stores.”
Parveen Ashraf, another customer supported the idea of these bazaar being better than the utility stores.
Ishtiaq Ahmed, a taxi driver by profession, said, “These bazaars are just a political stunt, in an open market, a vendor may leave two to three rupees to you after bargaining and here you cant bargain even, because here things are being sold on higher prices under the pretext of ‘Fix Price’ and ‘Sasta Bazaar’.
Ashfaq Ahmed, a young man who owns a stall of ‘Masalah Jat’(spices) in the bazaar, said, “These bazaars are customer friendly but we the shop keepers cannot earn much, as we buy items from wholesale dealers and we are forced to sell those items on the rate we purchase. We don’t have margin at all, so despite a better management, these bazaars are not good for us unless the government gives us subsidy for at lease some solid margin on sales.”
Mujahid Hussain, An owner of fruit stall also complained about rates and margin. He said the government should provide us a subsidized stuff for sale so we may earn as well. He declared bazaars otherwise very good for customers where they can enjoy every facility and can find everything of their use under one roof.
District Officer Revenue and Administrator Rawal Town, Mr. Tallat Gondal said, “I think this impression is misleading that stall holders do not have any profit margin. He said officials of Market Committee remain present at the auction at the wholesale market. The rates are fixed based on the auctioned prices with a profit margin for traders and reasonable discount for people.”
He said proper infrastructure such as shaded stalls, electricity and fans have been provided to stall holders so that they work in a pleasant atmosphere. He said Town Administration, under the leadership of Chief Minister is committed to provide maximum relief to the masses during the Ramadan, he added.