Oman Observer

Consumers hit as prices of essentials skyrocket

MUSCAT, Aug 4 – The rising prices of vegetables, fruits and fish along with many other essentials and services are testing the nerves of consumers.
The latest update from the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) indicates that inflation rate has increased 1.37 per cent in June this year over the corresponding period in 2017.
“The situation is becoming tough with the rise in the prices of many essentials and services. This is increasingly putting pressure on the monthly books,” said Syed al Maamri, a private sector employee.
According to the data, prices of fish and seafood, non-alcoholic beverages and milk, cheese and eggs rose by 10.27 per cent, 1.65 per cent and 1.37 per cent, respectively, in June.
Compared with the previous month, the consumer price index rose only by 0.41 per cent, mainly due to a stable trend in several products as fuel prices moved up only marginally.
Since the onset of summer, prices of vegetables, fruits, fish and other essentials have increased substantially, putting pressure on the ordinary working class people.
According to traders in the capital’s wholesale market in Mawaleh, the prices of most fruits and vegetables have increased almost two to three times since more than two months.
“Tomatoes are becoming a rare commodity as their arrival in the market has slowed. Due to the intensity of the summer heat, they get decayed in the boxes,” said Saif al Yahyai, who acquires vegetables from Mawaleh for his shop in Ruwi.
Saif said prices of most vegetables, including cucumber, coriander, lady’s finger, garlic, cauliflower, cabbage, beans, eggplant and zucchini have increased manifold.

“Fruits are also high on the price front. Leave alone apples, prices of bananas, sweet melon and watermelons have also gone up,” said Saif.
However, most traders expect the prices to drop in October as the weather cools down and the peak production season begins.
At Muttrah fish market, the supply of fish has dwindled with the prices going high.
Traders say prices of kingfish, sherri, sardine and dover sole have gone up in recent weeks.
“Prices of several varieties of fish have gone up in the local markets. They have shot up by more than 40 per cent,” said Abdullah, a trader.
According to the traders, the rise in summer temperatures has resulted in increase in the prices.
“Tuna and kingfish are available in large quantities in the Sea of Oman. Most of the other species have descended 100-150m deeper into the ocean due to the heat. Fish need cooler water,” said Ali Mohamed, a fisherman at Muttrah.
At the same time, another trader said the scarcity and subsequent price hike were also due to the fact that large supermarket chains are buying fish in bulk from the market.

SAMUEL KUTTY