Consumers still face the heat


Fuel price cut fails to arrest cost of commodities

HYDERABAD: With the reduction in prices of fuel failing to bring reprieve, the consumers of essential commodities are left frowning at the wide gap prevailing between claims and reality.

Going by the price charts, the drop of Rs. 5 per litre in fuel charges does not seem to have translated into any palpable change in prices of daily necessities. Prices of all commodities except edible oil are yet to begin their downward journey.

Despite the government’s much harped limit of Rs.20 a kilo, many of the retailers continue to sell the superfine quality rice at a higher price. “At Rs.20, what we are getting is only the newly-harvested rice. When cooked, it becomes soggy and unfit to eat. For good rice, you have to shell out Rs.28 to Rs.29,” says D. Rama Devi, a housewife from Snehapuri Colony.

Not only rice, the prices of all essential commodities, including pulses, tamarind, jaggery and sugar have risen quite a bit over the past three to four months. However, there is a drastic reduction in oil prices. And only in respect of edible oils, there is some downward trend in prices. The wholesale price of groundnut oil, earlier Rs.74, has come down to Rs. 62, while in case of sunflower oil, the drop is from Rs.72 to Rs.60. Palm oil costs Rs.34 now, down by Rs.16.

Retailers, even while assuring that prices of other commodities will come down in a month, firmly deny the role of reduction of fuel price in the decline.

Transport charges

“Despite the reprieve in diesel price, the transporters have not reduced their charges. Three months ago, I paid Rs. 42 per quintal, and now, I’m paying Rs.50 for transporting the commodities to my shop,” says J. Shravan Kumar, a retailer. He assures that the prices of all other commodities will slide in January with the arrival of new crop, but the same is not true about rice, which earns no patrons.

“It is unviable for us to sell superfine quality rice at Rs.20 a kilo. We pay Rs. 2, 480 per quintal. VAT and transport added, it becomes Rs.2, 640. We will incur heavy losses if we sell at Rs.20 per kilo,” says a retailer not wanting to be named. The superfine quality is being sold at Rs.28 a kg was purchased from farmers at Rs.735 per quintal, he claims that rice procured and milled by the government agencies can be sold at Rs.13 per kg.