KARACHI: Onion sells at Rs250 per kg in Karachi while in other parts of the country the rate hovers between Rs200-320 due to limited arrivals from Sindh and Balochistan crops and additional taxes on import of the staple food item from Jan 1.
As per Sensitive Price Index data, the national average of onion prices on the week ending Jan 26 was Rs200-320 per kg as compared to Rs180-280 prevailing on the week ending Jan 5. The rate in Islamabad has been highest so far at Rs260-320 per kg.
Out of 600-700 stuck-up containers carrying onion, only a few of them had found their way into the market thus putting extra pressure on prices.
All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetables Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association Patron-in-Chief Waheed Ahmed said importers are paying around Rs18-20 per kg extra tax on the import of onion which was zero-rated till Dec 31, 2022. Besides, the arrival of onions from Afghanistan and Iran has also stopped due to crop issues there while consumers are now preparing their daily food dishes from Egypt, Turkish and Chinese onions. As the crop in these countries is coming to an end, imports are also being made from Dubai.
He said markets are receiving little quantities of 25,000-30,000 tonnes from Balochistan and Sindh crops against the monthly national demand for 150,000 tonnes. “At least 100,000 tonnes may stabilise or bring down the onion rates,” he added.
Mr Waheed said imported onion is also being supplied from Karachi to various parts of the country.
“Onion may maintain a bullish trend as the massive rupee devaluation will push up transportation costs amid a likely hike in diesel and petrol prices,” Waheed feared.
On stuck-up containers, he blamed some banks favouring importers while others have adopted delaying tactics in releasing import documents and opening letters of credit. As a result, some containers are released while others have still been stuck up for over a month affecting the quality and resulting in spouting or emergence of roots in the onion.
The bank officials are also charging high dollar rates which is another factor in pushing up onion rates, he added.
Waheed said the price of onion may remain high till March due to thin supplies from producing areas and costly imports.
He said the wholesale rate of Pakistani onion in Karachi is Rs170-180 per kg but retailers have no limit of profiteering while the City government has always remained helpless in protecting consumers’ interest.
Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2023
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