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SUVA, Fiji (February 18, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---A dramatic increase in the price of basic food items in Fiji has forced consumers to cutback purchases.

The cost of standard household items --such as butter, margarine, toilet paper, tea, oil, potatoes, onions, local chicken, toothpaste, washing soap, flour and powdered milk-- has risen significantly as a direct result of the 20 percent devaluation of the Fiji dollar last month, the Fiji Times reports.

A businessman in Savusavu, Fred Ah Kee, says the price increases, especially for powdered milk, have caused havoc among consumers in the area. He says some mothers depend on powdered milk to feed their babies. Ah Kee wonders what they will feed their young children, now that the price of milk is beyond the purchasing power of many families.

Ah Kee has called on the government to take into consideration the plight of the unemployed, underprivileged and those living in remote areas.

Not everyone can afford to spend money on over-priced items, he said.

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