Business Times

Seasonal prices remain unchanged

The average price of rice in December 2009 increased by 3% to Rs.68.42 per kilo from October 2009 compared to more dramatic shifts in prices a few years back in 2007. According to a study conducted by the President’s office in Sri Lanka, the December 2007 average price of rice was Rs.57.58, a 30% increase from Rs.44.21 in October 2007.

The study found that seasonal increases are similar to 2008 and that in fact the actual prices are almost the same. There has also been a drop of 225,000 metric tons of paddy production from 2008 to 2009 due to bad weather conditions which the study states is part of the reason for the scarcity.

Similarly, average seasonal price increases for vegetables in October, November and December 2009 were similar to 2008 and actual prices were actually less than 2008.. The study also found that the Colombo Consumer Price Index (CCPI) in 2009 was at a much lower rate than in 2007 and 2008 but shows a slight increase for the season from October. Meanwhile the general price level of commodities as measured by the CCPI increased in December 2009 compared to prices in the previous month with the price of petrol having gone up by 7% on a yearly basis. According to the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS), price levels have increased every month since September 2009.

The rate of inflation increased to 4.8% in December 2009 on a year on year basis compared to 2.8% recorded in November 2009. According to the latest available data from the DCS, Sri Lanka’s 12 month moving average inflation measured by the CCPI settled at 3.4% in December 2009. A DCS press release stated that on a year to year basis, the highest contribution to the overall increase of around 62% came from food commodities which increased by 3% in December 2009.

Among the food commodities, rice, vegetable, coconuts and coconut oil which have significant weights in the CCPI basket recorded price increases on a year to year basis, the press release stated. Under the non food category, the prices of kerosene oil, diesel and gas came down by 15%, 9% and 13% respectively.

On a month on month basis, the prices of food commodities recorded increase trends due to the decreased supply of agricultural consumer goods especially rice, vegetables, fish and seafood and coconut from main producing areas from November to December.

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