M3 Features

Price charts to relieve customers

October 18, 2013

The way prices have gone up in the past few weeks, it has become very difficult for people to keep within their budgets. On top of that is the unscrupulous ways of many traders. They have taken advantage of the turmoil in the markets to increase prices whenever they have felt like. Also, the prices at the various corporation markets and other markets vary on any particular day, sometimes to quite an extent.

In an effort to stop this menace, Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has come up with a solution: daily rate charts. These would be available both on the KMC website as well as in the KMC markets. So people can easily check the day’s rates on their internet-enabled mobile phones before going to the market. Else display boards would be there inside the markets. The system would be enabled for both wholesale and retail markets.

The display boards would be hung inside all 46 markets under the KMC. The prices at the same markets would also be available on the KMC website. To determine the ideal prices in each market, last August, KMC had hired global consulting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Based on its market analysis, the firm would recommend to the KMC the prices for each commodity.

The prices would be reviewed on a periodic basis to take into account changes in demand and supply and other issues. To determine the prices at the retail markets, issues like the distance sellers have to travel to take the goods to the nearest retail market after buying them at a wholesale market, would be taken into account.

The prices of around 150 essential items, including vegetables, fruits, meat and eggs would be listed in the daily rate charts. The rate charts in the markets would also list the phone numbers of the local Councillor and the market superintendent. If someone is being charged extra, he/she can immediately contact the superintendent to lodge a complaint. All market superintendents have also been given 3G-enabledmobile phones as part of this project. The state government is extending financial help towards this project.

According to member, mayor-in-council (market) of KMC, Tarak Singh, whenever the KMC have set up mobile fair-price shops, the prices have gone down in all markets because of competition, but as soon as the shops have closed down, prices have again gone up. The plan to put up daily rate charts is to control this fluctuation caused by artificially inflating prices.

Also, according to Singh, periodic reports from the markets would be sent to the chief minister, who would determine what punishments to give to errant traders. The KMC is hoping that this effort would put a smile on the faces of buyers who are often harassed by traders and forced to pay higher prices.

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