A Fiji Labour Party survey of prices of food and basic consumer goods in the past three years show massive increases ranging from 20% to as much as 400% for some food items.
These increases are registered even for food items that are under price control. The FLP’s objective was to see how prices of basic items have soared as a result of devaluation in April 2009 and the increase in VAT to 15% from January 2011.
While current prices are as indicated on supermarket shelves, the pre-devaluation prices are a guide only. We took March 2009 as the cut-off date and prices are based on specials advertised in the Fiji Times for the month. Actual prices prevalent at the time could not be obtained either from the Commerce Commission, the Fiji Consumer Council or the Prices and Incomes Board which has since been scrapped.
The increases, or decreases shown in the table (below) should, therefore be viewed as indicative only, not actual.
Despite the constraints, the picture that emerges is quite clear. Except for one or two items, most basic goods have registered exorbitant increases.
The highest increases are for staple imported food items like potatoes, onions, garlic and carrots. The price of 500g of garlic has soared from 65c pre-devaluation to $3.29 post January 2011 – a massive 406% hike. Likewise, potatoes have shot up from 99c kg to the current price of $2.38 – up 140%. Onions have gone up 125% from 89c kg to $2.00 kg now.
The price of imported carrots has jumped 212% from $1.15kg pre-devaluation to $3.59 post January 2011.
Rewa Butter (500g) is another essential food item that has almost doubled in price (85% increase) from a pre-devaluation figure of $3.29 to the current $6.09. Punjas ghee is another – from $6.99 pre-devaluation to the current price of $11.49 for a 750ml bottle – a 65% hike.
In the meat range, the price of lamb neck/curry pieces has doubled from $3.99kg pre-devaluation to $8 kg post January 2011. Lamb chops have gone up 65% from $7.99 kg to $13.16c kg.
Local Crest chicken (No. 15) has seen a 40% increase in price from $8.99 pre-devaluation to the current price of $12.59.
Even FMF Breakfast crackers (375g) show a 29% increase in the period surveyed – going up from $1.05 in March 2009 to $1.35c after January this year. Weetbix (Sanitarium 375g) went up by $1.30 from $2.79c pre-devaluation to $4.09 post VAT increase in January.
The price for FMF flour/sharps for a 10kg bag increased by 80c from $10.19 to $10.99 – up 8%.
In the toiletries/ detergent range, toothpaste has registered a 62% increase in three years, while toilet rolls (Viti) have gone up 95%. The price of Cold Power(900g) washing powder rose 43%, from $3.49 in March 2009 to $4.99 after the 15% increase in VAT this year.
Cooking Oil even though VAT zero rated, shows a 41% price increase. Punja’s Soya Bean Oil registered an increase of $5.11, jumping from $12.50 to $17.61 for a 4 litre gallon.
Price for cooking gas (Fiji Gas) for a 12kg cylinder refill shot up from $37.50 pre-devaluation to $45.50 post January – an increase of $8.
Fuel prices (Super and Diesel) have an average recorded increase of well over 50%.
Only two items out of 30 surveyed registered a price decrease. These were: Red Cow powdered milk and Brunswick Mackerel in Tomato Sauce.
The price spiral continues to rise imposing severe hardship on families with ordinary incomes. Despite the continuing rhetoric by the Commerce Commission, the housewife sees no respite from the constant struggle to ensure the family food basket fits in with the dwindling purchasing power of her family income.
Local vegetables, fruits, meat and seafood prices have in most cases, doubled, since January 2011 largely as a result of the spiralling impact of the increase in VAT to 15%.
For thousands of poor families it is now no longer a question of what is essential but simply what is affordable.
Price increases of basic household items
|Items||QTY||Pre-devaluation Price||Post Vat- Increased Price||Price Diff btw Post Vat & Pre devaluation||% Diff btw Post Vat & Pre devaluation|
|1||Lamb Neck/curry Pieces (Whole/Tray packed||1kg||$ 3.99||$ 8.00||$ 4.01||100.50|
|2||Lamb Chops (BBQ chops/slices/Curry pieces||1kg||$ 7.99||$ 13.16||$ 5.17||64.71|
|Crest Chicken||#15||$ 8.99||$ 12.59||$ 3.60||40.04|
|3||Oxford Beef||340g||$ 3.15||$ 3.70||$ 0.55||17.46|
|4||Canterbury Corned Mutton||340g||$ 3.15||$ 3.89||$ 0.74||23.49|
|5||Brunswick Mackeral in Tomato Sauce||425g||$ 3.19||$ 2.39||$ (0.80)||25.08|
|6||Garlic 480 -500g||500g||$ 0.65||$ 3.29||$ 2.64||406.15|
|7||Potatoes||kg||$ 0.99||$ 2.38||$ 1.39||140.40|
|8||Onions||kg||$ 0.89||$ 2.00||$ 1.11||124.72|
|9||Carrot||kg||$ 1.15||$ 3.59||$ 2.44||212.17|
|10||FMF Flour (Normal)||10kg||$ 10.19||$ 10.99||$ 0.80||7.85|
|11||Sungrown Rice||10kg||$ 14.99||$ 12.49||$ (2.50)||7.85|
|12||Punjas Soya Bean Oil||4lt||$ 12.50||$ 17.6||$ 5.11||40.88|
|13||Weetbix (Sanitarium)||375g||$ 2.79||$ 4.09||$ 1.30||46.59|
|14||FMF Breakfast Crackers||375g||$ 1.05||$ 1.35||$ 0.30||28.57|
|15||Milo||500g||$ 6.99||$ 6.99||$ –||0.00|
|16||Punjas Ceylon Tea||200g||$ 1.69||$ 2.49||$ 0.80||47.34|
|17||Rewa Butter||500g||$ 3.29||$ 6.09||$ 2.80||85.11|
|18||Rewa Life (White Pkt)||1lt||$ 1.65||$ 1.95||$ 0.30||18.18|
|19||Rewa Full Cream Powdered||500g||$ 5.39||$ 5.53||$ 0.14||2.60|
|20||Redcow Powdered Milk||500g||$ 5.99||$ 5.70||$ (0.29)||-4.84|
|21||Punjas Ghee||750ml||$ 6.99||$ 11.49||$ 4.50||64.38|
|22||Colgate Herbal||100g||$ 1.79||$ 2.89||$ 1.10||61.45|
|23||Toilet Rolls Viti (1)||1000s||$ 1.00||$ 1.95||$ 0.95||95.00|
|24||Axion Dishwashing Paste||400g||$ 2.19||$ 2.99||$ 0.80||36.53|
|25||Cold Power||900g||$ 3.49||$ 4.99||$ 1.50||42.98|
|26||Pacific Washing Soap||900g||$ 2.79||$ 3.59||$ 0.80||28.67|
|27||Protex (Bath Soap)||90g||$ 0.89||$ 0.99||$ 0.10||11.24|
|28||Fiji Gas||12kg||$ 37.50||$ 45.50||$ 8.00||21.33|
|29||Unleaded Super||ltr||$ 1.57||$ 2.37||$ 0.80||50.96|
|30||Diesel||ltr||$ 1.33||$ 2.07||$ 0.74||55.64|
Source: 1. Newspaper advertisements
3. Commerce Commission