The vegetable ghee and cooking oil prices, the
essential commodities of daily consumption, have gone up exorbitantly
due to levy of taxes while the increase in international prices has also
added fuel to the fire.
On an average, the consumer has to pay an additional
price from Rs10 to Rs11 per kg for vegetable ghee/ oil which, is
obviously a cause of concern for the low-income group.
It may be noted that around 150 units are engaged in
the production of vegetable ghee/edible oil in Pakistan. The number of
150 units represents both the organized sector and the units working in
the cottage industry. According to an estimate these units produce
between 2.5-3 million ton which is far more than the total requirement
of the country.
According to informed sources, a major chunk of the
vegetable ghee/oil goes to neighbouring countries including India,
Afghanistan as well as Iran through undocumented trade causing huge
losses to the national exchequer by tax evasion. The quality and taste
especially of the vegetable ghee produced by some big industrial houses
is far superior than the taste and aroma of the commodity produced in
India, hence, it is the much sought after commodity in India and
Afghanistan. It is amazing that while a good size of quality ghee and
cooking oil finds its way in the neighbouring countries, the citizens of
Pakistan are exposed to the hazard of using low quality ghee and cooking
oil being sold in the market in loose form. According to informed
sources some of these unscrupulous cooking oil producers are selling
untreated cooking oil in the market, which is highly hazardous to the
human life. This untreated oil is higher than the melting point of the
human physic thus causing several diseases especially in the low-income
The vegetable ghee/oil prices were increased soon
after announcement of the federal budget for 2002-2003 due to levy of
sales tax i.e. 15-20 per cent plus increase in price of palm oil in the
world market taking a quantum jump of over 100 dollars a ton. Yet
another reason for price increase is the hike in international prices.
The palm oil prices in the world market during the first month of the
current year were around 302 dollars which have gone up to the level of
407.89 dollars a ton in July 2002.
Consequently, the edible oil and ghee prices
registered a jump soon after the announcement of the budget. A pack of
2.5 kg of Dalda cooking oil was selling at Rs180 which jumped to
Rs201.76. Similarly, vegetable ghee of the same brand and volume was
selling at Rs180 prior to the budget which also increased to Rs201 per
pack. The price pattern of other popular brands was almost on the same
lines. Habib oil prices of one kg increased Rs60.50 to Rs67.88, Pakwan
pack of 2.5 kg from Rs128.25 to Rs129.38 etc.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers
Association has demanded of the government to except vegetable
ghee/cooking oil industry from the requirement of Section 73 of Sales
Tax Act, 1990 as this industry by itself is not in a position to
register the un-registered shopkeepers failing which the vegetable ghee/