Commodity prices vary “significantly” between retailers, reports Economic Development Ministry

The Department of National Planning and the State Trading Organisation (STO) have conducted a price comparison exercise across Male’ in a bid to show that while some retailers are charging inflated prices for basic commodities, most prices have risen little.

Speaking yesterday evening from the President’s Office, Economic Development Minister Mahmood Razee said the statistics, which were compiled by the Department of National Planning in collaboration with his ministry, indicated that although certain prices had been found to have risen in the last few months, there was no pattern to link these costs solely to a controversial managed float of the local currency.

The opposition has maintained that demonstrations raging across Male’ this week were against the government’s decision to implement a managed float of the rufiya and are led by youth unhappy with rising commodity prices.  These claims were made despite the active involvement of dismissed opposition Deputy Leader Umar Naseer, and MPs Ilham Ahmed, Ahmed Mahlouf, Ali Waheed, and Ahmed Nihan.

However, Razee added that discussions were ongoing with the STO – a main buyer of goods to the country – to try and maintain import supplies of 27 key food items in attempts to try and keep prices stable as well as enacting a cabinet pledge to cut import duty on diesel fuel by 50 percent.

Speaking ahead of a fourth night of protests by young people, parliamentarians and political activists on the streets of Male’, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Mahlouf said that although he had not been made aware of the content of the statistics at the time, he believed that protestors would not believe or be satisfied by the government’s claims and reaction.

“At this time, I think it would be difficult to accept that this is a genuine or positive message. At this point I don’t think [this] one press conference will help people,” he said.

Mahlouf added that he believed comments made by President Nasheed earlier this week, where he allegedly denied knowledge of the street protests concerning increased living costs that have garnered news coverage all over the world, had been extremely offensive to people gathering on the streets .

“It would be better to have a statement from President Nasheed apologising for the stupid comments he has made,” he added. “These comments have only made protestors more angry.”

Government findings, which were compiled on April 2 by officers visiting ten different stores across Male’, were said to highlight prices found to vary, sometimes significantly, between the retailers.

Speaking at press conference last night alongside Finance Minister Ahmed Inaz and representatives from the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), Razee said that when talking about changes in prices, it was important to try and determine how extensive they were.

“Yes, there are changes in prices, however, we should also see that in terms of essential commodities, what are the different brands that are there [in stores] and the price variations between them?” he said.

Following price comparisons conducted on May 2 at 10 different stores in Male’, Razee took the example of the prices of five powdered milk products, where prices between the stores were said to vary between Rf150 and Rf345. In addition he also pointed to the price differences in diapers, which he claimed varied between Rf118 and Rf150 for the same product.

The figures presently supplied by the government to Minivan News did not appear to verify these price fluctuations.

Razee added that he was unable to speculate on how long some of these potential differences in prices may have been present in stores across the capital or when and for what purpose they may have been implemented.

“What we are saying it, if you look at the price fluctuations that were there in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and if you look at the price fluctuations of the last few years, you will see there is no clear cut format or reason to believe this is directly related to the float of the currency,” he said. “Yes, it would have a bearing, but what needs to [be understood] is that there may changes to the prices. However, these are varied.”

Razee claimed that the government was not using this explanation as an excuse to avoid acting on public price concerns and said that measures were being taken to try and offer stable prices for certain “essential products”.

“We are in consultation with the STO and we have identified together 27 elementary items, out of which six are currently imported directly. [STO] is going to import the other items [on this list] as well to try and maintain price stability and ensure the availability is there,” he said. “In addition to this, the cabinet today advised the president to remove 50 percent of the duty on diesel. So this will give some relief to power generation, electricity bills and transportation costs.”

Finance Minister Inaz added that the government had decided to release some of its statistics to try and highlight current prices being paid by goods in relation to the last few years.

“It is very easy in a small economy to play with and manipulate the confidence of the economy,” he said. “Confidence is the most important factor to build an economy and it can be easily twisted. We agree the prices have gone up, but we want to maintain these price levels at a competitive level compared to other international rises.”

Cost statistics

The government, in figures compiled by Department of National Planning, outlined a number of changes in the average prices paid for goods between March 2010 and March 2011.

These price changes include:

• One kilogram of loose rice – up 1.07 percent from last year

• One kilogram of ordinary flour – down 1.89 percent from last year

• One kilogram of frozen chicken – up by 8.73 percent from last year

• One medium sized coconut – up 69.71 percent over last year

• One hundred grams of garlic – up 22.34 percent last year

• One kilogram of potatoes – up 8.74 percent last year

• One kilogram of imported onions – down 12.64 percent from last year

• One kilogram of yellow coloured dhal – up 17.63 percent from last year

• One 500 millilitre bottle of Kinley mineral water – down 30.30 percent from last year

• One 185 gram can of Felivaru brand fish chunks in oil – up 22.24 percent from last year

• One unit of state-supplied electricity – unchanged from last year

• Thirteen kilogram of cooking gas – up 12.12 percent from last year

• One litre of petrol – up 32.65 percent over last year

• One packet of Fitti brand small baby diapers – up 4.35 percent from last year


16 thoughts on “Commodity prices vary “significantly” between retailers, reports Economic Development Ministry”

  1. "MP Ahmed Mahlouf said that although he had not been made aware of the content of the statistics at the time, he believed that protestors would not believe or be satisfied by the government’s claims and reaction."

    Not surprised at all. Neither Mahlouf, nor the "protestors" would listen to reason, since they don't have a valid reason for their protests.

    Why don't these so-called "young protestors" ask MPs such as Ahmed Mahlouf about their highly inflated salaries and benefits? Ask them about their role in the rise prices and even more importantly rents. Most people in Male end up spending their money on rents. You will NEVER see an MP going to a protest demanding lower rents!

  2. This government is crazy as well as inconsistent..One day the President of the republic says the price of commodities has not gone up..the next day economic minister says the prices has risen and STO is planing on importing essential goods..but let us not forget that the President Mohamed was the champion of free market leaving everything to the market forces..but today we see STO planing to do opposite of that , not in the last 30 years have we seen a government controlled company meddling this much in the retail industry...This shows that this government lacks a coherent economic or any other policy for that matter and are not fit to run this country. Honorable Minister Razee is a joke ...he used to be managing airport the place went broke and so now hes managing the economy.....

  3. What? No mention of the price of a cup of Coffee in Male cafes and Power Gold Energy drink?

    These were the main items of concern expressed by a representative of the protesters who was talking on VTV last night.

  4. Role of state companies like STO will always remain in a small country like Maldives. It is a mistake of MDP to privatize too much. Also it is a bigger mistake of DRP in not explaining the critical role played by state companies in regulating businesses.

    In a small country, regulations would not be enough. Government has to be in business too, to prevent few tycoons taking over the economy... so role of STO will grow stronger..

  5. I am shocked by the denial of price hike. we import everything from other countries, n these countries use US dollar as exchange commodity.

    Before devaluation, we pay MRF12.85 to get 1 US dollar to buy say a NESCAFE bottle from china. after devalutation still we have to pay 1 US dollar to buy nescafe bottle from china, but now we get this dollar for MRF 15.85.

    Given everythin else being equal there will be atleast 23 percent increase in all goods and servives we import in terms of MRF.

    Now our income/salaries did not increase and yet cost of living has increased way too much. Now how can any sane mind reject that prices of commodities did not/will not increase?

  6. @NARS dear dumb ass, The governor of MMA has openly said that this dollar shortage which many consider as the root cause of price hikes is due to government spending being more than its income...... We have been living in a DEFICIT budget since 2003!!! Since mass protests against Gayyoom, the then government spent EXCESSIVELY with no eye to the future trying to buy out maldivians by 2008. With an approx deficit of FIVE BILLION RUFIYA every year.

    So when some stupid dip shits like Umar Naseer and Mahulouf come out protesting bcos this government took the unpopular yet economically sensible role of reducing pays, hiking electricity, floating the dollar and so and so, ANNI would suddenly let go of his economic sensibility?

    F*** that......

  7. @NARS, RAZEE wasn't running airports he was then the director of civil aviation which has nothing to do with the day to day running of MACL so dnt talk about sh** u dnt knw.....

    Mr Ilyas, Mr Anbaree and DON YAMIN was responsible for the run down of the Airport

    Ilyas as the initial Director of Civil Aviation meddled excessively on airport issues
    Anbaree with his ties to Mahathir, practically split profits of Air Maldives between them with Malaysian Airlines given preferential treatment at the airport
    YAMIN "the DON" ABDUL GAYYOOM with his million dollar CUT from ALL the jet A 1 fuel sold from the airport.

  8. My god the incompetency of the idiots is quite mind boggling. They surveyed only 10 shops?.
    10 shops out of how many (their are more than 1000 small shops(kamathee fihaara) in male alone.
    what kind of sampling was done ?
    what is the margin of error ?
    where is the raw data?
    when was sampling done previous years and what shops were involved ?
    where is the raw data for that?
    Any collage educated moron can see this is just utter bullcrap that will not hold up to any kind of scrutiny. Hell even a CHSE statistic student can do a better job than this.
    The plain simple matter of fact is the government does not have a clue how to handle the current economic crisis. This so called survey is to hood wink and calm the uneducated moron that makes up the grass roots of MDP nothing more.

  9. Please see below the depreciation of the US Dollar. Which means less Rupees, Ringgits, Bahts, for the dollar. We simply cannot tolerate this lets organize protests in each of these countries.

  10. Hmm I read this twice looking for the names of the 10 shops and did not see them, some survey guys! Looks like you made it up after all.

    If the government is really serious about helping the average family in Maldives and stopping these so called rogue price rises from unscrupulous traders, then pass a motion of fair trading and cap profits.

    Actually while you are about it maybe you could put a cap on MP's raising their salaries and, oh why not go for it and stop raising government salaries and appointing so many unwanted, untalented estate managers.

    Please stop speaking down to us as if we do not understand your game, we do and we are beginning not to like what we see, help us out, live up to your promises.

  11. @Iburey.
    Please return to Maldives from anei dhivehiraajee. Are you still in the hindhukolhu.
    This governments deficit so far exceeds total deficits of the former government between 2004 and 2008. As projected we will have a deficit of 22 billion by 2013.

  12. Hold on a minute!

    Prices from March 2010 and March 2011??

    The prices have only just jumped up these last few weeks!! So no wonder this survey does not find the price hikes...they need to do another one tomorrow.

  13. Neil merit, pls publish the changes in price between march 2011 and end of Aprill.....we may not have white skin like you, but we r not completely brainless

  14. The inflation rates % change in consumer price index for Food and beverages including fish was 1.30 in march 2011 and 10.65 for April 2011 ( And I am not even an economist. U can't fool all the people all the time

  15. @Yaameen, we have a auditor general now if he agrees with you then i will too...

  16. Dear iburey and yameen.....Yameen ,its useless trying to be rational with MDP memebers, they are like mindless headless zombies...Iburey proves my point he says he will belive when auditor general agrees...see he cant think if Preident Nasheed says miday is night, he will believe it.....they all are suffering from the "30 year syndrome"


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