KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s adviser on finance, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, appeared ill-informed about tomato prices in the city as he said Monday they are being sold at only Rs 17 per kilo.
Speaking to media personnel, the PM’s adviser said people were lying when he was told that tomatoes were being sold at Rs240 per kilo. He told reporters that they were being sold at Rs 17 per kg at Karachi’s sabzi mandi (vegetable market).
A journalist then said: “Which sabzi mandi, sir?” To which, Dr Sheikh responded: “You go and check it out yourself!”
Another journalist added: “Is it the sabzi mandi of Islamabad that you’re talking about?”
Immediately, then, the adviser looked directly at the camera, muttering under his breath, “oh this again,” and everyone behind him laughed.
“That’s what is being run on the TV,” Dr Sheikh noted, to which one of the reporters said: “But, on the TV, it says tomatoes are being sold for Rs240 a kilo.”
Another journalist responded with a fresh personal story: “Sir, I myself bought tomatoes for Rs300 a kilo.”
“Oh but I am agreeing that prices of many commodities need to be controlled. Agriculture [industry] has seasonality,” the PM’s adviser explained, as someone from behind persistently tries to stop the person holding the phone from recording the video of Dr Sheikh’s comments.
“There are storage facilities for many things, especially fresh produce, but we don’t have them in our country, so we need to come up with solutions for such problems.
“Then there’s this thing that if you increase the capacity, then it’s natural that you’d predict beforehand about which things experience seasonal shortage, and, therefore, you can order it prior and store and there would be additional storage cost,” he said.
It is noteworthy that tomatoes in Karachi were priced as high as Rs320 a kilo on the weekend, doubling in rates from before. Vendors noted that it was not their fault as the wholesale prices had shot up.
Prices in the last week of October were recorded at Rs100-120 a kilo.
Other vendors said the Eid-ul-Azha stock and the one that followed was destroyed due to rains and, after that, a piercing cold season in Quetta hampered another batch of tomatoes, turning the tomatoes unripened and yellow.