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A well-stocked vegetables stall.—White Star
A well-stocked vegetables stall.—White Star

KARACHI: The cost of living continues to soar further with new hike in prices of onion, chicken, ghee and cooking oil on account of rupee-dollar parity, end of crop season and a demand-supply gap.

Onion dealers, especially pushcart owners, are now charging up to Rs60 for a kilo despite the fact that they sold the commodity for between Rs50 and Rs40 per kg earlier this week.

In March, the price of one kilogram of onion was Rs30.

Chicken dealers further increased the price of meat to Rs380-390 per kg in the last few days from Rs350-360 per kg.

In the last week of March, chicken meat was selling between Rs310 and Rs320 per kg.

One kg of onion was available for Rs30 in March, but now its price has reached Rs60 a kilo

However, dealers kept the price of live bird intact at Rs220-230 per kg and claimed that the demand-supply gap resulted in a sharp jump in white meat prices.

However, the price checking team of the Karachi commissioner so far failed to play a positive role in providing any relief to consumers. The municipal authorities are not even bothered to call upon stakeholders and take feedback from them on soaring prices.

Cooking oil/ghee price up by Rs20 a litre

Good quality cooking oil/ghee now costs Rs200 per litre, showing a jump of Rs15-20, as two months back it was sold at Rs180-185 per litre.

Retailers said they were actually offering ‘discount’ despite increase in prices otherwise the actual price of good quality oil was over Rs200 a litre.

They also expressed surprise over the increase in ghee and cooking oil prices because the average per tonne price of imported palm oil had fallen to $601 per tonne in July-February 2018-19 from $738 per tonne in same period last fiscal year.

The chairman of the Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Asso­ciation (PVMA), Tariq Ullah Sufi disagreed over the increase of Rs15-20 per litre ghee price and said: “The actual price increase made by the manufacturers is Rs10 per litre/kg in the last two and a half months.”

He said the companies had given a margin to retailers on actual retail price and it depended on the retailers how they pass on this to their customers.

When asked why ghee/cooking oil price goes up against declining palm oil prices in the global market, he said the government had increased the federal excise duty (FED) on palm oil import by one per cent and other taxes. Besides, the fall of rupee against the dollar further pushed up the cost of imports, he added.

Mr Sufi said the actual price hike of Rs10 per litre/kg came in the wake of sudden rupee depreciation against the dollar a few months back.

However, he said most of the manufacturers now started offering Ramazan discount of Rs5 per litre/kg in ghee and cooking oil.

In vegetables, wholesalers said devastation caused by floods and rains had hit the onion crop in Balochistan causing disruption in supply from the province due to bad road conditions.

They said the Sindh crop had almost come to an end and now Balochistan’s crop was feeding the entire country.

Falahi Anjuman Wholesale Vegetable Market president Haji Shahjahan said the onion crisis may subside as some crop in big areas of Balochistan would soon to reach the market.

Besides, the crop of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was also reaching the markets after one or two weeks.

Spaghetti manufacturers have also increased the price of 450 grams pack by Rs10.

Some retailers are selling the item at Rs85 as compared to Rs75 while others demand Rs90 compared to Rs80 a few days back. Mayonnaise also became costlier by Rs20 per kg.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2019