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Before Dawn: Pre-budget increase in prices of essential commodities.

KARACHI, June 1 -- Pre-budget increase in the prices of most of the essential kitchen items during the month of May have badly affected purchasing capacity of overwhelming number of consumers in Karachi, compelling them to cut down their daily usage of most of the items.

Wholesalers and retailers continue charging high prices of sugar during the outgoing month, despite its declining rates in the international market. Currently, sugar is available at majority of city's retail outlets in the range of Rs 60 to Rs 62 per kilogramme, which is not in conformity with its declining rates in the international market.

Concerned department of City District Government Karachi has clearly failed to take cognisance of the exorbitant rates of one of the most essential commodity, which has added to the misery of helpless consumers.

The items that recorded increase in their average prices included wheat, mutton, beef, eggs, tomato, packed milk and dry milk, some pulses and all varieties of tea, garlic and ginger, potato. The essential item with decline in their rates included chicken meat. Chicken meat rates declined in the retail markets and is currently being sold at price ranging from Rs180 to Rs 190 per kilogramme compared to previous month price of Rs 230 to Rs 240 per kilogramme, indicating a sharp decline in its rates.

Similarly, prices of live chicken bird currently stands at Rs 105 to Rs Rs 108 per kilogramme compared to previous month rates of Rs 130 to Rs 140 per kilogramme. The sharp decline in rates of chicken has been attributed by the traders to the low demand during the summer season. While some believe that the most recent decline in prices of poultry is due to the recent raid on Poultry Association's offices by the Competition Commission of Pakistan, in view of the alleged cartelisation of the industry.

Egg prices have surged during the last one-month and it is currently available to buyers at Rs 50 to Rs 52 per dozen compared to old rates of 45 to Rs 48 per dozen.

Wheat prices during the month of May surged to Rs 2360 to Rs 2375 per 100-kilogramme compared to previous month rates of Rs 2300 per 100-kilogramme bag. Dealers of the commodity in the open market have attributed the increase to prevailing ban imposed by the Sindh Food Department on its transportation from Punjab, causing shortage in the wholesale market.

However, rates of all varieties flour including ex-mill, chakki and Ashrfi brand in the city retail markets remained unchanged during the last one month.

The ex-mill prices of flour currently stand at Rs 32 per kilogramme while chakki flour was sold at around Rs 32 to Rs 34 per kilogramme. Prices of quality colonel rice and other varieties remained unchanged in the wholesale and retail markets of the city spelling relief for its consumers. The price ranges from Rs 80 per kilogramme to Rs 100 per kilogramme.

Retail prices of Dal Masur continue to remain in the range of Rs 100 to Rs 103 per kilogramme. However, rates of Dal Moong, a locally produced commodity surged to record level of Rs 150 per kilogramme compared to old rates of Rs 125 to Rs 130 per kilogramme, manifesting massive surge in its rates during the last one month. City retailers have attributed the increasing trend in moong pulse rates to its rising smuggling - despite complete ban placed by the government since long.

Black peas (kala channa) price remained unchanged and is currently available at Rs 50 to Rs 52 in the retail markets, similarly, rates of quality white pea (kabli channa) continue to hover around Rs 80 to Rs 85 per kilogramme in the retail markets.

Dal Mash rates during the last one-month surged sharply in the retail markets and is currently available to buyers at Rs 145 to Rs 150 per kilogramme in the retail markets of Karachi.

Dry milk prices also surged in the retail and wholesale markets of Karachi, which was attributed by importers to increased rates in the international markets. Other major factors that influenced its rates were growing disparity between local currency and the dollar. Packed milk continues to fetch high prices, which has multiplied the miseries of its consumers.

Vegetables: Fine quality onion continues to fetch around Rs 20 to Rs 22 per kilogramme in the wholesale markets. Growers and wholesalers of the commodity have termed the stabilization in its rates to the arrival of onion crop from Balochistan in the market.

Price of potato, another vital commodity of every kitchen, surged during the last one month as it is currently available at around Rs 22 to Rs 23 per kilogramme, against previous month rates of Rs 20 per kilogramme.

Retail price of garlic, a vital food ingredient, surged during the last one month, and is available to buyers at Rs 150 to Rs 160 per kilogramme compared to old rates of Rs 125 to Rs 130 per kilogramme. The increasing cost of the commodity was attributed to previous months upward revision in prices of petroleum products.

Retail price of tomato surged during the last one month, as it is currently available to buyers at Rs 35 per kilogramme compared to old rates of Rs 20 per kilogramme - which is far higher.

Fruits: Prices of all fruits continued to be on the rise. Price of banana, regarded as one of the fruits of all seasons, is available in the range of Rs 40 to Rs 50 per dozen - compared to old rates of Rs 20 to Rs 40 per dozen.

Watermelon has arrived in bulk with the advent of summer season and it is available in the range of Rs 15 to Rs 20 per kilogramme.

The most demanding fruit of the summer season, Mango, has also started reaching in bulk in the wholesale and retail markets of the city but currently it is highly priced - in the range of Rs 40 to Rs 50 per kilogramme, which is beyond the buying capacity of an overwhelming number of buyers

Tea: Prices of tea surged during the last one-month, as rates of one kilogramme of all branded and open tea including Lipton and Tapal stand in the range of Rs 450 to Rs 470 per kilogramme compared to old rates of Rs 430 to Rs 450 per kilogramme. The increasing rates of the commodity were attributed by the traders to the increasing value of dollar against the local currency.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Daily Times. For more information on news feed please contact Sarabjit Jagirdar at htsyndication@hindustantimes.com

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Publication:Daily Times (Lahore, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jun 1, 2010
Words:1107
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