Several USC food items become dearer

Several USC food items become dearer

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The federal government on Saturday ended the Ramazan Package at the Utility Stores Corporation (USC), while a notification has also been issued in this regard, reported a private news channel.

According to the notification, the price of 500 grams packet of dates has been increased by Rs10, 950 grams of tea by Rs67, 400 grams of spices by Rs36, one liter of Milk Pak by Rs20 and white cumin 200 grams by Rs23. In addition, the price of 50 grams of cardamom has been increased by Rs18, red chilli by Rs18 per 200 grams, shampoo by Rs14 and 100 grams of turmeric by Rs4. The price of pulses was increased by Rs10 per kg and cooking oil of various brands up to Rs20 per liter, as per the notification.

On the other hand, the USC says that instead of 19 items, the federal government will now subsidise five items. Sugar will be available at Rs70 per kg, flour 10kg bag at Rs400 and ghee at Rs260 per kg. Rice and pulses will also be subsidised.

Meanwhile, the USC successfully completed the Ramazan Relief Package 2022 in Ramazan. CNIC requirement would still be intact with limits on quantities such as sugar 5 kg, flour 40 kg and ghee 5 kg. Moreover, the prices of other branded items available at the Utility Stores are much lower than the general market.

On the other hand, a 20kg flour bag on Friday became dearer by Rs210 for the consumers in Punjab as the official release of subsidised grains finally came to an end. In line with the present wheat prices in the open market, the retail price of a 20kg bag of flour in Lahore has gone up to Rs1,310 and the price of a 10kg bag of flour to Rs660. After the closure of the official wheat quota in Punjab, the retail price of wheat in the open market has gone up to Rs2,325 per 40kg. Flour mill owners have said that at the prevailing wheat price, the price of flour has become costlier by Rs10.50 per kg.

It may be mentioned here that this year, the Punjab government has fixed the minimum support price of fresh wheat at Rs2,200 per 40kg against the earlier price of Rs1,800 per 40kg. Wheat was earlier being supplied to flour mills at the subsidised rate of Rs1,950 per 40kg. The Punjab Food Department has bought more than four million tons wheat until now and is still procuring the grains. As flour millers have purchased the wheat at higher rates than the minimum support price of Rs2,200 per 40kg from the open market, the price of flour is bound to increase in line with market trends.

Currently, the private wheat rate ranges between Rs2,300 and Rs2,350 per maund. Hence, keeping in view of the current prevailing wheat prices, rates have been increased for private atta packed in white bags at the ex-mills rate of Rs645 for a 10kg bag and Rs1,280 for a 20kg bag. With grinding of private wheat, the price of a 20kg bag of flour has skyrocketed from Rs1,100 to Rs 1,310 that may increase the rate of roti.

Meanwhile, the price of poultry meat has hit the roof while its supply is also short, causing over-pricing to record Rs500 per kilogram at many places. The official price of chicken meat stood at record breaking Rs473 per kg. However, consumers complained that it is being supplied as per demand and traders have jacked up its price to Rs500 per kg. Earlier, in early March, the price of chicken meat reached Rs407 per kilogram. At that time, in just a span of a week, the chicken meat price jumped by around Rs70 per kg — from Rs334 per kilogram to Rs407. At that time, there were speculations that the price might touch Rs500 per kilogram at the start of Ramazan. However, this level of unprecedented price hike has been seen in the last couple of days. According to an office-bearer of Pakistan Poultry Association, increase in poultry meat price was primarily a seasonal demand-supply phenomenon. Since the poultry meat is a perishable product so the supply could not be altered in a short span to manipulate the market.

The poultry farmers could not hold the supply once a bird is ready as it causes huge loss to further keep it in the farm. He also blamed high cost of animal feed for price escalation of chicken meat.

On the other hand, egg prices also skyrocketed to Rs150 per dozen on Saturday. In the summer months, such high prices of eggs have never been seen before.

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