Bread Prices Soar in Sindh

Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan

Bread Prices Soar in Sindh - Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan

Dr. Tauseef Ahmad Khan

In Karachi, the cost of bread has become a pressing issue. Tandoor naan now costs Rs 25 and roti Rs 20. In some areas, naan prices go as high as Rs 30 or more. Comparatively, in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, bread is available for Rs 16, leaving Karachi residents lamenting their fate.

Last month, when Hasan Naqvi took charge as Commissioner of Karachi, he aimed to reduce naan and chapati prices. A notification from the commissioner’s office fixed the price of tandoori naan (120 gm) at Rs 17 and chapati (100 gm) at Rs 12. Additionally, the price of flour was set: Rs 90 per kg at flour mills, Rs 93 wholesale, and Rs 98 retail for regular flour; fine flour was priced at Rs 120 wholesale and Rs 123 retail.

However, these prices have not been reflected in the market, leading to public frustration. Reports indicate that tandoor owners argue that 120-gram naan and 100-gram chapati are only available at specialty restaurants, while the commonly used 140-150 gram roti remains at Rs 25. Thus, consumers end up paying more.

Moreover, the prices of premium breads like Sheermal, Taftan, and Kalcha, which range from Rs 70 to Rs 100, have not been regulated. Despite a good wheat crop and reduced wheat prices in Karachi, bread prices remain high.

Salim Jarwar of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) reported similar bread prices in Hyderabad, indicating a province-wide issue. In Sindh, there appears to be little administrative effort to control flour and bread prices. This contrasts sharply with Punjab, where the government and bureaucracy have actively addressed basic citizen issues.

For instance, when Mian Shahbaz Sharif was Chief Minister of Punjab, he enforced strict regulations on marriage ceremony timings and food quality through the Food Control Authority. This authority, active even during the Tehreek-e-Insaf government, ensured the availability of quality food items. Conversely, Sindh’s government has neglected such measures, with vacant health inspector positions in Karachi and other municipalities exacerbating the issue.

Under the current Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, a campaign reduced bread prices from Rs 20 to Rs 16, then to Rs 15, despite opposition. The Tehreek-e-Insaf government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also set bread prices at Rs 16.

In contrast, Sindh’s leadership, predominantly linked to the agricultural sector, appears disinterested in reducing wheat prices to protect their voter base’s interests. Without electoral challenges, there is little motivation for the PPP-led Sindh government to improve governance.

Some speculate that changes might occur due to evolving social dynamics, but for now, the situation remains grim. Historically, even long-standing political powers can be overthrown due to poor governance, as seen with the Communist Party in East Bengal.