Matchbox prices go up after 15 years, to cost a rupee

September 3rd, 2008 - 3:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Sep 3 (IANS) A box of safety matchsticks will now cost Re.1, a 50 paise price hike after a gap of 15 years.”Input costs have gone up 100 percent and we have no other option,” said S. Sriram Ashok, president of the All India Chamber of Match Industries-Sivakasi.

According to manufacturers, the price of duplex board has increased Rs.10,000 to Rs.32,000 a tonne over the past few years, and that of match wax by Rs.34,000 to Rs.66,000 per tonne.

Similarly, prices of sulphur, splints and potassium chlorate have also gone up.

The finance ministry also turned down an appeal to exempt matchstick manufacturers from central value added tax (Cenvat), which didn’t help matters.

“We hope to hold the price line at this level for the next two years provided the input costs do not go up drastically burning our bottom lines,” Ashok told IANS.

For the past 10 years, the input costs were more or less stable. But now not only the input costs, but the labour cost too has gone up, he added.

Added S.S.D. Krishna Moorthy, managing director of Liberty Match Co Ltd: “The prices of paraffin wax have doubled to Rs.80 per kg. The oil companies are trying to make up their losses by increasing the prices of other products.”

Asked about cost-cutting measures, Moorthy said manufacturers tried this route by shortening the sticks.

“But as per standards, a safety match has to be at least 40 mm long. The international standard is 42 mm minimum,” he added.

“Mechanisation of the production process is the only solution. But the high interest rates and low retail price will not enable a manufacturer to recover his investment in machinery,” Moorthy said.

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