Massive price hike greets Ramazan in Karachi
The city government issued an incomplete price list on Wednesday as it failed to accomplish the task of ensuring a curb on profiteering, hoarding and overcharging.
Ironically, sugar, ghee, cooking oil, wheat flour and fresh milk appeared to be missing from the city government price list, although all these items are essential for Ramazan-specific recipes.
Moreover, an inordinate delay in the finalisation and issuance of the official price list seems to have provided considerable relief to profiteers as no stakeholder would be able to have the list on the first day, or possibly after some more days, of Ramazan as the list has just been sent to press, it was learnt on Wednesday evening.
Retailers will be able to charge prices of their choice of any commodity on sale until they receive the official price list and are made to follow it. The items missing from the list are either federal/provincial subjects or their rates could not be agreed upon at the meetings held between the city government and the parties dealing in it. The parties included millers, wholesalers, dairy farmers and retailers.
Fresh milk is currently selling at Rs56 per litre in most areas of Karachi and there is no hope of a decline in its price in Ramazan. Dairy farmers, wholesalers and retailers have arbitrarily pushed up the rate by Rs8 per litre since March 2010.
Last year, the rates of sugar and flour were fixed at Rs47 and Rs30 a kilo, respectively, following intervention by the federal and Sindh governments. Sugar at present sells at Rs70-72 a kilo and flour at Rs36-38 per kg. The Sindh government, however, has launched a scheme under which a 10kg bag of flour is offered for Rs100, i.e. Rs20 per kg though only at especially set up stalls. Last year, a similar scheme offered flour for Rs10 per kg. Four millers have offered only Re1 per kg discount on their products at retail level in Ramazan.
Last year, the city government had issued two price lists — the first one was effective from August 23 to 31 and the second from August 29 to September 10 — and the reason was protest by some wholesalers, who viewed the prices fixed in the first list unrealistically low.
In the fresh list, Basin (dal channa variety) rate has been fixed at Rs62 a kilo as compared to Rs50 a kilo fixed last year. However, good quality basin is selling at Rs70-75 per kg in most city markets.
The official rate of good quality Kabuli channa (chickpeas) is Rs87 per kg and black gram Rs54 per kg while the rates last year were Rs56 and Rs42 per kg, respectively. At present, Kabuli channa is selling at Rs100-120 per kg and black gram Rs65-70 per kg.
The official rate of Moong washed and unwashed (quality no.1) are Rs129 and Rs107 per kg, respectively, as against the last year’s official rates of Rs50 and Rs44 per kg, respectively. Surprisingly, the existing rate of Moong washed and unwashed in the markets is Rs150-170 per kg.
Gram pulse no.1 rate has been fixed at Rs61 per kg as against the last year’s official rate of Rs44 per kg. Currently it is selling at Rs70-80 per kg. Similarly, the price of Mash quality no.1 has been fixed at Rs147 per kg against the last year’s Rs84 per kg. Currently, retailers are charging Rs160-175 per kg, depending on the area.
Masoor quality no.1 is currently tagged at Rs120 per kg but the city government’s quoted rate is Rs96 per kg as against Rs103 per kg quoted by it last year.
Arhar rate has been fixed at Rs122 as compared to last year’s Rs73 per kg while retailers are charging Rs140-150 per kg in the markets.
The new list offers a mixed relief to consumers in rice varieties. For example, Kernel Basmati rate has been fixed at Rs82 per kg against the last year’s Rs92 per kg. Its current market rate ranges between Rs110 and Rs115 per kg. The new official rate of Basmati rice is Rs72 per kg, Rs9 higher than the last year’s rate. It is at present selling at Rs80-90 per kg.
According to the official rate, mutton quality no.1 and 2 will be available at Rs440 and Rs415 per kg, respectively, and beef with and without bones at Rs220 and Rs250 per kg, respectively. Bachhia meat quality no.1 and 2 will be sold at Rs260 and Rs255 per kg, respectively.