Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, March 30th, 2020

The Corona-virus Increases the Price of Hygienic Stuffs in Free Market of Afghanistan

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The Corona-virus Increases the Price of  Hygienic Stuffs in Free Market of Afghanistan

After confirmation one positive case of corona-virus in the Herat province, the prices of the hygienic stuffs have sharply increased in free market of Afghanistan. Similarly, some food items which are considered as main resource of vitamin C such as orange, lemon, and vegetables were also increased in the country. for example, few days ago, the price one kg of lemon was about 40 Afs in Kabul but now it is about 100Afs and the price of a medical mask was about 3 Afs but now it is 30 Afs in Kabul market. In fact, Corona-virus has changed to curse for the poor but a golden opportunity for economic opportunists in free market of the country. This issue has caused a lot of criticism in social media networks and also some public media.  For example, 8am which is one of well-known local media collected details reports from the Kabul citizens. It quoted from Mohammad Hossein Saramad that he previously had bought a bottle of disinfectant liquid for 90 Afs while yesterday he bought the same thing at 250afs but his friends later bought the same thing at 400 Afs. Therefore, the Kabul citizens asked the government officials to interfere in the free market and not allow the shop keepers, pharmacists and opportunist companies to farther pressurize the people. In time of crisis, it is expected from all people to collectively take part in fighting against the common threat, not add to the crisis.
According to shop keepers and pharmacists, the shortages of medical stuffs are the main reasons for sudden rise of the prices. Yesterday, when the author went to the markets and asked from few shop keepers in west of Kabul, some of them blamed corona-virus while others blamed the system. However, the government officials have their own justifications. They usually justify their silence based on article 10 of the national law which paved the way for hoarding, monopolies, inflation and injustice. According to article 10 of constitution of Afghanistan, the economic system of the country defined as free market system. Though there is no absolute understanding from free market concept, there is an absolute interpretation from free market such that every destructive economic behavior is legally justified on the basis of free market system.
Certainly, the free market system has been accepted in the constitution, but it has not allowed every kinds of destructive behavior such as hoarding, monopolies, inflation and injustice to intensify a growing crisis. Moreover, the general spirit of national law requires the governments to ensure social justice, social health and social security in their countries. So, any threats either in form terrorist attacks or in form of free market monopolies, damping or hoarding should be seriously controlled by governments. No unfair economic behaviors which cause health crisis, inflation, widespread injustice, and class distances are allowed. In fact, this kind of economic behavior is considered more dangerous than terrorist attacks. The terrorist attacks may target a single place or group but economic injustice, especially in this critical time, create grave health crisis in the country.
The philosophy of free market system is to strengthen economic growth, peace and prosperity through fair and balanced goods exchange.  Unfortunately, it has produced a reverse outcome in Afghanistan due to a wrong fallacy from free the market system in economic context of Afghanistan. As result of this fallacy, the social crimes, poverty level and class distances have been steadily increased in the country. In the other words, the free market disorders and misuses are not confined to increasing the cost of hegemonic stuffs when corona-virus infiltrated in the country. It has frequently bother people and will be repeated in the country during the Eid days, New Year’s days, and month of Ramadan, during the winter season and so on. Recently, the price of one kg liquid gas which normally was around 40Afs in Kabul market had reached to 100afs but it decreased after public criticism. Therefore, it is the responsibility of government to ensure economic justice at these critical times.
The corona-virus is a global threat and currently one of the deadliest threats in the world.  We must take serious measures so as not to farther increase in the country. In many countries, the basics health facilities are freely provided for citizens so as to overcome the issues. If we are not able to do so, we must not allow the free market opportunists to misuse from the critical situation.  The government should neither allow anyone to use economy as a weapon against weak people and not let the local factories to collapse because of damping policies imposed by neighboring countries. If we fail to control the market, if we do not succeed to provide equal health kits and facilities to all people, the corona-virus may led to a crisis in the already war-torn society.
In short term, the respective institutions need to make sure that all people have equal access to health facilities needed for prevention of corona-virus. In addition, we need to launch a quick awareness and national campaign against corona-virus. In longer term, the government has to establish a specific unit so as to regularly supervise the free market system because the misuses from free market system has frequently repeated in Afghanistan and so the government needs to have regular supervision from the free market. Whenever, the unit feels the some signs of oppressive behavior in the market, it must immediately interfere.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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