Sat, 05 Mar 2005

Prices remain stable as fuel hike factored in

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Prices at traditional markets remained relatively stable three days after the government raised fuel prices by an average of 29 percent, as they had slightly increased after the government floated the idea last month.

"I haven't noticed any increase this past week," said Atang, who shops daily at Kebayoran market in South Jakarta for his catering business. "Most prices rose in February."

Asep, who sells rice at Slipi market in West Jakarta, said prices of staple food started creeping up in February, in anticipation of the fuel hike.

"Each week I would increase the price by Rp 50," said Asep. "At the beginning of the month, I was selling it for Rp 3,250 per kilogram, now it is Rp 3,400."

He added that by incrementally increasing the price he was able to soften the impact it would have on his customers, who in general were understanding of the reason behind the increase.

Ratih, who has sold vegetables at Slipi market for 20 years, said most of her produce suppliers started to increase prices in February, as they were starting to factor in the government's planned reduction of the fuel subsidy.

"If there are any fluctuations in price now, it will mostly be for products affected by the weather, such as chili and onions," said Ratih.

She added that although the fuel price hike did not cause prices to immediately jump, she could not guarantee that they would remain stable as the whole economic impact of the fuel price hike had not been played out yet.

Atang said that although he could tolerate an increase of up to 10 percent, he hoped prices would remain stable.

He added that besides increasing prices, some vendors had found other ways to pass on the impact of the fuel hike to their customers.

"For instance, the price of tempeh, which is sold in sheets, has not risen," said Atang. "However, the seller has made the portions noticeably smaller." (002)





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