Sat, 04 Jan 2003

Price of basic needs increase by 70%

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The prices of a number of basic commodities in the city's traditional markets already have risen following the government's Wednesday announcement of increases in fuel prices and utility rates.

Traders said they expected more goods to go up in price next week.

Instant noodles, cooking oil, spices and vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, onions, cauliflower, red curly chilies, lettuce and potatoes have all gone up in price.

The highest price increase, of up to 70 percent or more, was experienced by vegetable, though traders said the increase was also the result of the heavy rains during the wet season.

"The prices of manufactured products have not increased, but I believe they will end up costing more because they will be affected by the increase in industrial diesel fuel prices," Amin, a food trader at the Palmerah traditional market in Central Jakarta, said on Friday.

According to Amin, the price of a box of instant noodles containing 40 packet had increased by an average of Rp 2,000 (22 U.S. cents) since Thursday. He said, for example, that the price of a box of soto-flavored instant noodles had gone up to Rp 30,000 from Rp 28,000, and chicken curry-flavored instant noodled increased to Rp 36,500 from Rp 34,000.

The price of rice, coconut, fish, chicken, meat, sugar, branded vegetable oil, wheat powder and a number of other commodities remained the same on Friday.

The price of cooking oil at the Bayu shop in Kebayoran Lama market, South Jakarta, increased to Rp 5,300 per kilogram on Thursday from Rp 5,000 on Wednesday. The increase in vegetable prices was even greater.

Wati, a trader at Kebayoran Lama market, said vegetable prices started going up on Thursday, the result of both the utilities price hike and the heavy rainfall.

She said the price of a kilogram of tomatoes increased from Rp 3,500 to Rp 6,000, lettuce increased to Rp 3,500 from Rp 3,000, red chilies to Rp 18,000 from Rp 15,000, potatoes to Rp 5,000 from Rp 3,500 and celery to 8,000 from Rp 5,000.

Sijan, a vegetable trader at Palmerah market, told a similar tale. On Friday, he was selling eggplants and cucumber for Rp 1,500 per kilogram, while on Wednesday the price was Rp 1,000.

Like Wati, Sijan said vegetables prices also were affected by the weather.

The price increases caused problems for many people, including housewives.

Resti, a resident of Kebayoran Lama, expected basic commodities to cost more after the government announced the increases in the price of fuel, electricity rates, telephone rates and economy-class train fares on Wednesday.

But when the traders told her the prices on Friday she was still upset.

"I don't know how I will manage because my husband, a civil servant, has not been given a raise," she said.