While the Ministry of Commerce and Industry assures that food prices will remain stable during the holy month of Ramadan, a number of Kabul citizens complain about the instability of food prices in the city markets and say that food prices increase every year during the fasting day.
The price of food items has risen twice during the holy month of Ramadan comparing the past.
But the ministry’s spokesman Fawad Ahmadi said a joint commission had been set up under the leadership of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to control food prices.
Ahmadi said that during the commission’s review of the Kabul markets, food companies and importers people have been assured that there was enough food in the markets and that their prices were also stable.
The companies have also pledged to reduce food prices, especially dairy products, during Ramadan. But citizens are still skeptical of the Ministry’s statement and following an interview with The Kabul Times said that food prices are still high and this has always been a concern for the people.
Samim, a resident of Kabul, says that during Ramadan, shopkeepers raise food prices and this issue should be seriously pursued.
“Every year, with the arrival of Ramadan, the prices of food items, especially those items consumed more in this month, increase,” he said adding sellers should not violate fairness of the prices during the holy month.
Mohammad Amin, another Kabul resident who came to the market to buy groceries, said the government’s role in controlling the market was effective, saying that because the relevant agencies did not oversee the market and that sellers increase the prices under the pretext of the free market.
He said that if the government controls prices and monitors the market, no businessman or shopkeeper can exceed the prices and oppress the poor and needy.
He says that before Ramadan, the prices were not so high, but now that it is a holy month, the prices have increased two or three times.
The shopkeepers, however, say that they buy food at a high price and have to sell it at a high price to may not suffer losses.
“The price of groceries has risen overall in Mandavi, the central Kabul food market,” said Yasin, a shopkeeper adding this has become habitual and with the arrival of Ramadan, the price of foodstuffs in the markets increases every year and this year, even the price of vegetables has increased.
On the other, wholesalers in in the Kabul food market also report an increase in food prices.
“We count on currencies, if the price of the dollar or the rupee rises, the price of the commodity goes up, and if the price of the dollar and the rupee falls, the prices go down,” said Haji Delavar, a wholesaler in Kabul’s Old Food Market.
Wholesalers say there is no difference in the price of domestically produced food items, but note that only the price of food imported from other countries has increased due to rise in currencies.
Nearly a week ago, a wholesaler of rice in Kabul’s market was selling for 2,200 Afs, but now the price has risen to 2,500 Afs. And in the same way, there is a difference in the price of flour.
However, economic experts do not consider it reasonable to increase the price of food on special occasions, such as the arrival of Ramadan, Eid, and Nowruz.
Ahmad Navid, an economic expert, says: “The inability and inefficiency of the government apparatus in the field of credible monetary policy, raise prices over a period of time.” Navid said that the government should monitor the market in this regard, otherwise everyone will sell their goods at different prices or high price wherever they want, and this is a big blow for the low-income people of the society.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, there are two main reasons for the increase in the price of some food items during Ramadan; 1st the price of Afghan currency has fallen slightly, and the second is rise in demand with the arrival of the holy month of Ramadan, the demand in the markets will increase a bit higher. But the ministry says the rise in food prices in the country’s markets is temporaral.