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Rising prices of essential food items rankle consumers

ISLAMABAD: Prices of essential food items are on the rise. Though people have become accustomed to such situation, when price of something as small as green chili (Sabz Mirch) shoots up to Rs 100/ kg, even the most resigned consumer gets rankled.

At a visit to weekly Sunday bazaars in H-9, G-10 and G-6 held under the banner of Capital Development Authority (CDA), this scribe learned that like the prices of other vegetables including onion (Rs 130/ 5 kg), ginger (Rs 120/ kg), garlic (Rs. 184/ kg), shoot up considerably this week by Rs 10-15 from the previous week, the hike in price of green chili was surprising to many.

“I just can’t believe it!” said Humza Khurram, a lower grade officer at a government office carrying his shopping bag at H-9 Sunday Bazaar. “How can chilies cost this much? I was intending to purchase some fish and chicken but found that they are out of question.”

The story of price spiraling this season may not be as straightforward as one would think. There seems to be reasons myriad as to why prices of some items, usually considered cheaper than others, are soaring to incredible levels. Vegetables are becoming a luxury item for many lower income groups, one of the most affected.

“I really don’t know what to buy when I go to the market,” said 36-year-old Sumaira Bibi who works as a part-time maid at a house in I-8 sector. “Whenever I go to buy some vegetables I come back with only potatoes (Rs 80/ 5 kg) as that’s all I can buy these days. But my daughters keep asking for fish (Rs. 300-350/ Kg) but that is impossible.” The prices of commodities registered a varying degree of hike in the month of January 2011, according to Free and Fair Election Network’s (FAFEN) monthly Retail Price Monitor. The commodities are tomato, cooking ghee and oil, rice, meat, eggs, fruits and kitchen items.

While the prices of many of the essential commodities shot up, the price of garlic and onion experienced a further decrease of 25 percent and 22 percent, respectively.

As compared to essentials like flour and pulses, there has been a tremendous hike in the case of green vegetables. For people with fixed incomes, price surges of essentials are a terrible burden to bear. A woman shopper said she had come to that bazaar in order to buy some kitchen items but she found no attraction in the bazaar, as the prices were same as in the open market.

This correspondent learned that the stallholders were overcharging and were not following the price list.

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