Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Price rise hits families



A RISE in the price of goods and services in the country has many families trimming their costs, paying more attention to their food budget, and asking if the government is going to do something about inflation, The National reports.

Figures for the June quarter, released by the National Statistical Office (NSO), showed a rise in consumer price index (CPI), both headline and underlying.

The CPI measures price change across a range of goods and services, and generally tells you the spending pattern of the population in PNG’s urban centres.

The NSO figures show that the prices of goods and services have been rising steadily since the 2009 December quarter in the major centres of the country.

These include the price of food items, tobacco and betelnut, clothing, rent, fuel and power.

In the June quarter, the CPI rose by 1.6%, compared to 1.4% in the March quarter of this year. But this varied depending on which urban center you are in.

The CPI change for Port Moresby was 0.5% while Goroka was higher at 2.5%, Lae 2.9% and Madang 3%.

Food prices grew by 2.4%, while rent, fuel and power charges were higher at 3%.

For a teacher who was out shopping at Stop N Shop in Waigani yesterday with his three children, the inflation is biting in.

The family buys food stuff in bulk to save.

The father said they live at Rainbow and they preferred Stop N Shop because the prices were within their range. A 10kg Roots Rice they were after was going for K37.80, which he said was cheaper than at other shops.

He explained why he shopped where food prices were cheap.

“This way, I can budget for fuel for my car to pick up and drop off of my kids at school and to at least save some money because I am a teacher and we don’t get that much every fortnight,” he said.

Wages for teachers differ, depending on their levels and where they teach. A national high school teacher might gross of K800-K900 fortnightly while an elementary teacher would be around K300.

If housing is not provided, their salaries obviously cannot pay the rents on offer in Port Moresby today, never mind buying food for the family, paying council and other rates, and saving for medical and other expenses.

A number of respondents to an online survey done yesterday by The National blamed the LNG project for the inflation.

All complained of a strain on their pay packet.

A female respondent said that even though she was single, she had to cut down on some of her habits and stick to her budget so that her pay could last.

She has also taken to setting up small business ventures like selling betelnut to supplement her income.

One father said that the traditional obligatory responsibilities of the Melanesian family also put the strain on families.

“Non-compliance of obligatory responsibilities have soured relations, while those who comply in fear of stigma find themselves driven further and further into debt,” he said.

Another, who resides in a settlement in the city, said that with the much publicised LNG project and its benefits which are still to felt, vendors, wholesalers and suppliers were increasing their produce because they think that there was enough money floating around to pay for the high cost of food and other stuffs.

He said that at the moment, garden foods at the markets cost almost the same as those in the shops.

“A bunch of banana is K2. For a big family, that is not enough. Also a 1kg packet of rice is almost K5 for Roots and K6 for Trukai.”

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