Gas and flour price hikes push up prices at many eateries

By Damith Wickremasekara

The price of food parcels and such basic breakfast and dinner items as hoppers and string hoppers are going up in price, following price hikes of flour and gas, even as discussions are under way to raise the price of milk powder.

Bakeries, eating houses and restaurants have already begun to increase prices of flour-based products, including bread, koththu, and short-eats. Rice packets and a cup of tea also cost more, reflecting this week’s steep price increase for gas.

A. N. Abdeen, who owns a restaurant in Maradana, is worried about a drop in customers, now that he has to raise the prices on his menu card. “We depend a lot on gas, because we don’t use firewood any more for cooking,” Mr. Abdeen said. “The new gas price will make a difference to the food prices. The government should have given the public some concessions before increasing the gas rates.”

Chandrasekaran Shiva, another Pettah restaurant owner, said he felt it was unfair to raise the price of the food he serves, but said he had no choice. “On average, we use three gas cylinders a day, which works out to 90 cylinders a month. The extra charges will have to be reflected in our prices.”

He said a cup of milk tea had gone up from Rs. 25 to Rs. 30, and a paratha costs an extra Rs. 3, a koththu extra Rs. 20 and a vegetable rice lunch packet an extra Rs. 10.

Bakery products have also gone up in price, after wheat flour went up by Rs. 3 per kilogram last week.
L. K. Jayawardena, president of the All Ceylon Bakery Owners’ Association, told the Sunday Times that bakeries had been advised to increase the price of a loaf of bread by one rupee only, but with the steep increase in gas rates, the prices of bakery products would have to be further increased.

“We hope the government will do something to bring down the price of flour,” he said. Meanwhile, Minister of Co-operatives and Internal Trade Johnston Fernando said world prices for gas had gone up, and this had to be reflected in local prices, but promised that prices would be revised as soon as world market prices came down. The Minister said the price of flour was increased in order to promote local rice products.

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