Price cuts in essential items :
For whose Benefit was it
Consumers complain that although prices of thirteen essential food
items were slashed offering budgetary relief , it has not filtered down
to them.On the other hand eatery owners appear to be a disappointed lot
because profit margins had dipped.
Errant vendors to be charged -
Chairman, Consumer Affairs Authority, Rumi Marzook, said errant
vendors will be charged. If the listed essentials are found to
be sold at a higher price. He said that consumers had complained
about price differences, despite strict instructions being
given. Marzook also invited consumers to complain using the
According to the reduction in prices through the interim budget,
sugar prices were reduced by Rs. 10, milk powder by Rs.61 per 400 g
packet, Sustagen milk powder by Rs. 100 per 400g, Wheat Flour by Rs.
12.50 per kilo, bread by Rs.6, green gram by Rs. 40 per kilo, canned
fish by Rs. 50, corriander by Rs. 46 to 20 per kilo,chili powder Rs. 25
per kilo, sprats by Rs. 26 per kilo, LP gas Rs. 300 per 12.5 kilo
cylinder , turmeric by Rs. 100 per kilo and Maldive fish Rs. 200 per
Nearly two months after the interim budget, the Consumer Affairs
Authority (CAA) last week requested that hoppers, milk tea, and plain
tea be reduced in keeping with the reduction in prices of sugar, milk
Accordingly the price of a cup of milk tea was reduced to Rs. 25, a
cup of plain tea to Rs. 10 and a hopper to Rs. 10. This decision was
taken by the CAA to provide relief to consumers and to ease the cost of
living. After the interim Budget, the All Island Canteen Owners
Association reduced the price of a cup of plain to Rs 10 and a cup of
milk tea to Rs. 30.The price of a hopper was Rs. 10.
The Sunday Observer checked out if the public reaped the benefit of
the price reductions. An owner of a hotel near Echelon square said milk
tea is now being sold at Rs 25 in keeping with the government's decision
whereas it was Rs. 40 earlier.
Hoppers are being sold at Rs. 10 each. A. J Ranawaka, who was an
employee of the shop said a hopper was earlier sold at Rs. 15. He said
it was a good thing that prices were reduced but that the law should be
enforced all over the country. He said that milk powder price reduction
had had no effect. In the budget the price of a packet of milk powder
was reduced to Rs. 325.
"It was pointless reducing the price of flour, since electricity
bills, water bills and gas bills are still high. He said that kiosks
opposite the National Hospital were fleecing customers and charged
exorbitant prices. They have not reduced their prices. If a law is
implemented, it should be carried out in equally everywhere", he said.
A popular eatery in the Fort sold selected items at the new prices.
Azad, who is the cashier said, "We have not benefited from the price
reductions. Milk powder is still being sold at the earlier price. When
we pay employees, buy gas and food items we face a difficult
A shop owner was abrupt when asked about price reductions and refused
to answer the queries. Another restaurant owner said hoppers were not
being made at the moment as the hopper maker was not available. He said
plain tea and milk tea were given at the reduced prices and that earlier
a cup of milk tea was Rs. 40. An eatery owner who wished to remain
anonymous said that they were somehow trying to improve their business.
Plain tea is being sold at the new price but he was perturbed when the
price of milk tea was asked, "We have put good quality tea leaves and
make a tasty cup of tea'', he said.
Ananda from another popular eatery said that price reductions on tea
should not have been implemented. According to him it was unfair.
"Earlier a cup of milk tea was sold at Rs. 40 and now it is being sold
at Rs. 25. Sugar prices has been reduced only marginally and it does not
make much difference". They sold selected food items at the reduced
prices but the profit was not enough even to pay the electricity, water
and gas bills. The employees salaries cannot be increased because of
this matter", he complained.
Most eatery owner had the same story - they were running on a low
budget. A trishaw driver related an interesting story " Earlier they
gave a glass of milk tea in a big glass. Now they have reduced the
quantity and serve in small 'Asoka' glasses. Although a cup of tea costs
Rs. 25, it is not worth at all. You can fill a big glass with two of
these. Quality also has been compromised".
Food City and Sathosa, ensured they sold goods at the reduced rates.
At Sathosa a kilogram of sprats sold at Rs. 399 earlier but now it has
been reduced to Rs. 375. A tin of canned fish,(155g) was sold at Rs.74,
whereas now it has been reduced to Rs. 64 .