ISLAMABAD (Staff Report) – Subsidized staple food items announced by the government as part of its Rs 1.75 billion Ramazan Relief Package to be distributed at Utility Stores, however, are now more frequently available in the open market, where they are being sold at high profits by members of a powerful mafia.

Under the package, Ramazan specific items were to be made available to the general public at subsidised rates in Utility Stores across the country. Additionally, special discounted rates were announced for another 22 essential items.

However, only a few days into Ramzan, these items started disappearing off Utility Store shelves and making their way into the open market.

A storekeeper from Islamabad’s G-6 sector told Daily Pakistan that supplies of many subsidized items had been discontinued since the very first week of Ramazan.

Meanwhile, some insiders claimed that the managements of Utility Stores had sold the subsidized items on the open market, at regular rates, and pocketed the difference.

“The rate of White Gram at Utility Stores is Rs. 115/kg while its open market rate is up to Rs. 200/kg. Now if one offers the same item at Rs. 150/kg, he will be able to make a huge profit,” the insider maintained.

On the other hand, senior officials of Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan have denied the claim that management sold the items in the open market.

Simultaneously, they agreed on the fact that many essential items, including White Gram and Basin, were not available at stores, however, they believed that high demand was the reason for the shortfall.