KARACHI: The Bureau of Supply and Prices is not performing its lawful duties to monitor and regulate commodity prices across the province, officials employed in the department allege, on condition of anonymity.They say the department’s work has been restricted only to coordinate with district administrations and to be represented as a token gesture in meetings at district administration offices where retail and wholesale control prices of essential commodities are announced.Under the law, the department is responsible for registration of around 180 commodities in main markets [under Sindh Registration of Godowns Act, 1995] across the province. It is mandatory for more than 24 inspectors of the department to check weights and measurements and in case of price violation, confiscate weighing tools and measurements of price violating shops.The department is also required to monitor and test fuel stations’ meter gauges in order to curb tempering of meters. In addition, departmental inspectors are required to accompany raiding teams of district administration in markets, but the practice has long been disconnected, officials allege.Its responsibilities also include visiting markets and check selling prices of commodities. But inspectors of the department seldom visit markets and instead visit ‘buchat bazaars’ where members of inspecting teams allegedly get illegal benefits, officials allege.They also complain about frequent transfer of departmental powers from parent body to another at the provincial level.It used to be under the Bureau of Supply and Prices, Sindh. However, because of the Sindh Local Government Ordinance of 2001, price control powers remained with city and district governments, resultantly, the department remained toothless.Later with the name of the Bureau of Supply and Prices, it was revived through a notification in 2008. Through a notification in 2009, the provincial government declared it to be an independent department. In 2013, the Supply and Prices Department was merged with Agriculture Department.Departmental sources say that Javed Hasan, the controller with additional charge of prices and supplies, has been in charge of the department for six years.They claim that his appointment was made in sheer violation of Supreme Court directives under which no any official could serve on a lower-grade post of a department if s/he was already working on a higher-grade post.Documents available with Daily Times show that he has issued departmental identity cards to his private employees, whose employment record does not exist in government papers.When contacted, Hasan rejected allegations of malpractice. He said it was possible that some people were using forged identity documents to show themselves to be inspectors of the department, adding that he was unaware of any such persons.He also rejected suggestions that fines and and imprisonment of shopkeepers violating government fixed rates by raiding magistrates remained on papers only.Published in Daily Times, March 14th 2018.