City govt takes notice of rising meat prices

KARACHI(Thursday, April 29, 2010): As the prices of beef and mutton continue to climb up, the city government has invited the meat merchants for a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the factors responsible surging prices. The meeting is also aimed to fix and regulate prices.

Meat merchants have been opposing rising meat exports and smuggling of live animals, which has been causing shortage of both the products, besides pushing up the rates substantially.

Meat Merchants Welfare Association (MMWA) information secretary Jehangir Akhtar Qureishi said that the city government had fixed the rate at Rs240, 260 and 280 for mutton in 2008 for three qualities and also fixed the rate at Rs165 and Rs170 for two qualities of bachia (with bones).

After fixing prices it had continued with the price checking campaign by either imposing fines on meat merchants or sending them to jail for overcharging.

The MMWA delegation will meet the Executive District Officer (EDO) on Wednesday for fixing new meat rates.

Qureishi said the MMWA will recommend Rs400 and Rs420 per kg for No.1 and No.2 qualities of mutton and Rs240 and Rs260 for No.1 and No.2 qualities for bachia meat with bones.

The association will also suggest Rs200 per kg for cow meat (with bones).

In case the city government succumbs to the pressure of the meat merchants the meat prices would officially go up.

He said that MMWA has also planned a protest at the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday against the smuggling of live animals to Afghanistan and Iran through Chaman and increasing export of meat.

He claimed that around 200 trucks loaded with various animals are being smuggled to neighboring countries daily.

According to the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS), export of meat and meat preparations swelled to $72 million (27,347 tons) in July-March 2009-10 as compared to $52 million (19,175 tons) in the same period of last fiscal.

Meat exports during July-June 2008-09 surged to 26,794 tons (worth $72 million) as compared to 17,816 tons (worth $49 million) during the corresponding period of 2007-08.

Qureishi claimed that the wholesale rate of bachia meat is now Rs9,000 per 40 kg, while cow meat is available at Rs6,000-6,500 per 40 kg.

He said despite spotting around eight to 10 illegal slaughter houses in various areas the city government has not taken any action.

Taking full advantage of the animal shortage, meat merchants in posh areas are now charging Rs440-460 per kg of mutton, while bachia meat (with or without bones) is selling at Rs240-260 per kg and Rs300-320 per kg depending on the area.

In areas like Water Pump and North Nazimabad, the bachia meat with bones is priced at Rs240 per kg. Mutton in these areas is available at Rs400-420 per kg.

The rate of cow meat is Rs220 (with bones), while Rs280 is being charged for beef without bones. In some areas, the cow meat with bones is available at Rs200, while the one without bones is tagged at Rs260 per kg.

The government has never fixed the rate of meat (without bones) thus leaving up to the meat merchants to charge prices on their own depending on the area.

Qureishi said that in 1995, mutton was available at Rs110-120 and the cow meat was selling at Rs60-65 per kg. In 2000, the government allowed meat exports and since the meat prices had been rising.

While giving permission for export it was decided that the exporters would set up their own cattle farms and would export 40 per cent of available livestock and sell 60 per cent in the local markets. However, not a single exporter had followed this decision.

The government allowed export of live animals from 2004 to 2007 but later it was banned. It resumed in 2009.

Courtesy The DAWN

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