KARACHI, Dec 1: Except for some stability in the prices of vegetables and pulses, consumers paid higher rates for flour varieties, rice, ghee, cooking oil, fresh milk and soft drinks.
A random market survey of prices from Nov 1 to Dec 1, 2007, showed the increase of Rs3 per kg in atta No 2.5 to Rs20 from Rs17, followed by a Re1 per kg increase in mill atta and Rs10 per 10kg bag of fine atta.
The increase in prices came in the wake of rising wheat prices and increase in smuggling of wheat and flour to Afghanistan and other neighboring countries.
The federal government has also directed the Punjab and Sindh governments to increase release of wheat to flour mills by an additional 2,000 and 1,500 tons, respectively, from the existing 16,000 and 6,500 tons.
Chairman, Sindh Zone of Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA), Chaudhry Ansar Jawed, said that despite efforts, smuggling of wheat and flour was still rampant to Afghanistan and this should be checked strictly to avert any crisis in Pakistan. The Frontier Corps had been asked to check wheat smuggling on borders.
Asked about the increase in atta prices, he said that the mills had enhanced only Rs50 per 80kg bag since Ramazan after increase in 100kg wheat bag price to Rs1,700 a week back. Now the wheat bag price had again come down to Rs1,675.
He said when the government would harass shopkeepers, they would do anything by demanding higher prices from consumers or making artificial shortage.
Ex-mill atta bag rate is Rs1,450 per 80kg as compared with Rs1,400 last month. Currently it is available at Rs1,850 at the wholesale. Wheat was selling at Rs1,570 per 100kg bag last month.
In case of sugar, a number of retailers are still charging Rs30 per kg at retail level despite the fact that sugar price at wholesale level has fallen to Rs24 per kg. However, a spokesman for Karachi Retail Grocers Group has quoted the retail rate of Rs26 per kg. Some retailers were of the view that they purchased the 100kg bag at higher prices and that prices would come down when old stocks would deplete.
Chairman, Karachi Wholesale Grocers Association (KWGA), Anis Majeed, said that pulses rates had been stable because of very low demand in the market.
Even wholesalers and importers are releasing their stocks below the cost.
He said currently a close watch on the borders for checking smuggling of wheat is needed, otherwise, market situation relating to wheat stocks would exhaust.
In case of fresh milk, absence of any effective and follow-up check by the city government after Ramazan had resulted in the reversal of pre-Ramazan rate of fresh milk to Rs34 per litre.
In Ramazan, milk was selling at Rs32 per litre in most of the areas on the pressure of the city government.
Fines are being imposed on milk retailers for overcharging, but they again start selling at higher rates by adding water to recover the amount of fines from customers.
In soft drinks, manufacturers had also pushed up rates of various categories of bottles from Rs3 to five despite being an off season during winter.