Rates up on revised basic price for Value Added Tax; egg and vegetable prices hold firm
Chicken price has gone up 25 to 30 per cent over the weekend and is within touching distance of Rs. 200 a kg partly because the basic price of the birds brought from outside, on which VAT is charged, has been raised from Rs. 70 a kg to Rs. 95.
The move may have buoyed the stumbling local poultry industry but customers will end up paying more as live birds were selling for Rs. 118 a kg in the Ernakulam market on Monday. This means that dressed birds will cost upwards of Rs. 190 a kg.
Those associated with the poultry industry said the State meets about 50 per cent of its requirement of nearly two lakh birds a day from farms within the State. But the real rise in the tax realised from imported birds will end up in traders passing on the extra burden to customers even if the birds are locally grown.
Local farmers have also expressed concern about the hike in the basic price for VAT realisation prompting traders to evade the tax net.
Kerala State Poultry Development Corporation, which sells dressed chicken under the popular brand Kepco, has been actively involved in market. Kepco brand of chicken sells at Rs. 165 a kg.
The government-owned Meat Products of India sells dressed chicken for Rs. 155 a kg.
Poultry farmers in Kerala have protested against the recent government decision to hike Valure Added Tax on chicks imported from outside the State from Rs. 4 a bird to Rs. 6.5. “No other State government has taken such a step,” said an angry poultry farmer in Alappuzha, pointing out that the move would only help large farm owners from outside the State.
The poultry farmer said the State government, instead of encouraging more farms in the state, was trying to help monopolies eyeing the large Kerala market.
The price of eggs and vegetables have ruled firm over a fortnight even as arrival of some of the vegetable varieties have picked up after the rains.
Eggs were selling at Rs. 3.65 a piece in the wholesale market and at Rs. four apiece in the retail market. The price remained firm during the last two weeks, said a dealer in the city. There is no scope for price going further down because of the rise in the cost of inputs such as poultry feed.
The Ernakulam district requires around a million eggs a day and arrivals have been steady too.
Efforts by Kerala State Poultry Development Corporation had pushed up local production of eggs, claimed an official of the Corporation on Monday.
He said around 45 crore eggs were being produced a year through various schemes initiated by the corporation. Kerala requires approximately 450 crore eggs annually of which only around 200 crore are produced in the State.
Vegetable prices have also ruled firm over the last two weeks even as arrival of items like cucumber and snake gourds have picked up.
The intervention by agencies like Horticorp has also helped rein in prices. Locally grown vegetable cowpea and onions continued to be the hottest items in the market, the former selling at Rs. 60 a kg and onions selling at more than Rs. 50 a kg in most places.
Onion prices have eased from more than Rs. 70 a kg in the retail market about 10 days ago.
There is a shortage of bitter gourds, which were selling for Rs. 54 a kg, according to figures from Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council, which tracks the market trends on a daily basis.
Nendran bananas were selling for Rs. 58 a kg in the local market. The locally grown variety was selling for a premium as Onam season is fast approaching.
Horticorp, which is selling most vegetables at a government subsidy of 30 per cent, is procuring approximately 12 to 15 tonnes a day in Ernakulam district. The government-run agency has opened up a stall in Kaloor under Metro People’s Bazaar banner and another stall has been opened in Kakkanadu.
More Horticorp vegetable outlets are expected in the coming days at Piravom and Koothattukulam.