THE prices of red meat have gone up sharply in Karachi making it out of reach of the people earning even an average salary of Rs15,000-20,000 per month.

Beef boneless is selling between Rs400 - 450 and with bone above Rs350, and mutton skyrocketing over Rs600 per killogramme.

Under such inflationary conditions the poor can only dream of buying meat. And if possible at all buy a kilo or half of chicken meat to meet their protein needs.

This hike has occurred despite assurances from the president of the Meat Merchants Welfare Association (Karachi) President Shaikh Kamran Ikram Qureshi and other office-bearers to Commissioner Karachi Roshan Ali Shaikh last month that there would be no increase in meat price and it would be maintained at its last year’s level.

As per decision at the meeting, the meat prices should have been mutton Rs500 per kg, beef with bones Rs260 per kg and without bones Rs290 per kg, calf meat Rs300 per kg. But contrary to the commitments the rates of meat have been raised.

In the past also the traders defying the orders of the district government have arbitrarily increased the rates of commodities mainly milk and meat according to their own will and the district government seems to be helpless.

A customer at a beef shop very much agitated over the inflated rate of meat said: “The concerned authorities should closely monitor the official price of the commodities and impose tough fine and punishment on the merchants who increase the prices arbitrarily.”

At present 66 per cent of the population is deficient in animal protein. The requirement of protein is 102.7 gram per head per day against the available 69.61 gram per head per day, showing a gap of 33.09 gram. The main source of animal protein is beef, mutton, milk, poultry meat and eggs. But their high prices have reduced their consumption among the protein-deficient people.

The only cheap source of protein left for the poor are pulses, but they too have gone expensive, lentils (masoor) costing Rs100 per kg, moong at Rs130, mash at Rs125 and gram pulse at Rs115 per kilogramme.

According to the Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) data released by the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBI) last week, 14 out of 15 items that registered increase in their prices belong to the kitchen.

The increasing prices of food items have made the maximum inflationary impact on the lowest income group making many kitchen items out of their reach. Wheat, rice and sugar prices have also increased.

The poor who do not afford meat depend on vegetables, but their prices have also increased.

Prices of general commodities have gone up manifold during Ramazan eroding the purchasing power of a common man. The price of general items have increased almost 25 per cent to 50 per cent , adding to the burden of the troubled common man, said the President of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry commenting on the over all increase in prices of food commodities.

He was of the view that around 40 per cent of the population did not even have access to food needed for adequate nutrition, whereas, high food prices have significantly affected the purchasing power of masses. The government should adopt appropriate food security policies to provide relief to millions of poor people, he emphasised.

He said the government must take measures to stop further increase in food prices and accused it of having failed to provide any relief to the common man through weekly bazaars and utility stores. Prices of pulses, oil and ghee, fruits and vegetables all have gone out of reach of the common man, he said.

The pensioners and the old people who have deposited their life-time savings in the Bahbood fund and other mode of savings at the CDNS, discussing cut in the rate of interest at a saving centre, were not happy with the cut in discount rate. They said the State Bank’s policy rate cut to 10.5 per cent may spurt businesses, but feared it would reduce the amount they take home every month to run their household.

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