KARACHI, Sept 14: The PML-N government completed its 100 days in office on Saturday, however, it has done nothing to make good on its promise to bring down the cost of living. The first day of PML-N in office was June 6.
The manufacturing sector is also in anguish over the rising cost of doing business following a three-fold hike in petroleum prices.
The cascading effect of the jump in prices of petroleum products and one per cent hike in general sales tax (GST) in the budget for 2013-14 has already begun to hurt consumers as well as the manufacturing sector. As if this were not enough, persistent devaluation of the rupee against the dollar has made imported items and raw material costlier than ever.
The local administration, which is responsible for issuing fortnightly price list and its forceful implementation, has restricted itself to holding meetings with stakeholders and senior officers. Consumers fear that the price-checking effort, especially in Karachi, will fail as hardly 50 officials have been deputed for the city’s 18 towns. These officials impose fines on a few retailers and send some of them to jail. This has failed to set off panic among retailers as they recover more from consumers than what they pay to the officials as fine.
The manufacturers and market forces, which enjoyed a free hand in five years of the PPP-led coalition government, are still busy pushing up prices on one excuse or the other.
Since the ruling party’s coalition partners and the opposition have not organised any protest against price hike, it is clear that the matter holds no interest for them. Curiously enough, the PML-N, too, had never held any demonstration or any other form of protest when it was in the opposition.
After more than three months in power, the PML-N government finally woke up by holding a meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) on September 12, asking provinces to play a proactive role in price stabilisation.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who chaired the NPMC’s meeting, emphasised that consumer associations in the West were playing the role of watchdogs to check rise in prices. However, in Pakistan, market analysts believe that consumers’ body have not played their role in curbing food inflation.
Chief Executive Top Line Securities Mohammad Sohail said floods, Syrian crisis and increase in electricity rates have affected the prices of key food items in last few months. New taxes in the budget forced manufacturers to pass on that to the consumer.
“It is expected that Nawaz government energy sector reform will further increase inflationary trend in coming months that is why Central Bank has also raised its key policy rate by 50bps,” he said. “But I think these taxation and energy related matters are necessary to control fiscal deficit and to bring discipline in economic management,” he added.
Going forward, he said if the new government is also able to control law and order situation then there are bright chances of more investment in the country that can provide jobs and employment to the masses.
Chairman Karachi Wholesalers Grocers Association (KWGA), Anis Majeed said that almost 100 days of the government remained relief-less for the masses owing to petroleum and power price hike and devaluation of the rupee.
“I am hopeful that the PML-N government will do serious efforts to curb inflation in the long run and make strategy to control food price hike,” he said adding that at least effort is being made to overcome energy crisis and tackle law and order situation.
General Secretary Karachi Retail Grocers Group (KRRG), Farid Qureishi said that the government did not focus on food price hike in the last 100 days. He urged the government to work out an effective strategy to bring down cost of living of people.
The flour millers had a field day since the new government took control as they raised prices several times. As a result the price of fine flour is now tagged at Rs45-46 per kg as compared to Rs42-43 per kg in June, while Chakki flour price also rose to Rs45-46 per kg from Rs44 per kg. Sugar price saw slight rise of Re one per kg to Rs54 from Rs53 per kg.
Masur pulse price rose to Rs110-120 from Rs95-100 per kg. Mung washed price climbed to Rs130-140 from Rs100-110 per kg. Mash washed price went up to Rs100-110 from Rs97 per kg. Arhar price rose to Rs140-160 from Rs130 per kg. Gram pulse now sells at Rs80-100 as compared to Rs60-70 per kg.
High quality premium basmati super rice price had swelled up to Rs170 per kg from Rs165 followed by increase in Karnal basmati price to Rs165 from Rs160 per kg. Wind Basmati price soared to Rs145 from Rs130 per kg. Basmati broken price also jumped to Rs75 from Rs70 per kg. The increase in price of rice was attributed to 10 per cent damage to its crop owing to flood.
On September 10, Everyday tea whitener price (1,000 gram and 400 gram price) has been raised to Rs270 and Rs600 from Rs560 and Rs250 per pack respectively. Nido 400 gram pack price was enhanced to Rs300 from Rs290.
All washing powder prices have gone up by Rs5 and Rs10 per 500 and 1,000 gram packs. For example, Surf Excel one kg and 500-gram packs are now available at Rs250 and Rs125 as compared to Rs240 and Rs120.
Biscuits prices have been raised by Rs2 and Rs5 depending on the packs followed by hike in shampoos prices by Rs5 to Rs10 per different packs.
Beef (veal) price with and without bones is Rs320-340 and Rs440-460 per kg as compared to Rs290-300 and Rs400-420 per kg. Mutton price hovers between Rs640-680 per kg as compared to Rs600-620 per kg.
Chicken dealers are also enjoying a free hand by pushing up prices on demand and supply gap. They some times raise the price to Rs190-200 per kg for live bird and Rs320-350 per kg for its meat as against its official price of Rs120 for live bird and Rs210 per kg for its meat.