GEORGE TOWN (Jan 12, 2014): Penang Hindu Association (PHA) urged the Ministry of Trade and Industry to take immediate action against retailers over the price increase of essential items during the festival period. PHA deputy president P. Murugiah said the public, especially the Hindu community, were feeling the pinch, particularly during the Ponggal and Thaipusam festivals which fall on Tuesday and Friday, respectively. "A survey carried out by the association showed an increase in the prices of par boiled rice (imported rice), milk powder, fresh milk, ghee, green peas, white peas, condensed milk, tamarind, dried chillies, payasam mix and clay pots. The price of 450ml of milk has increased from RM3 to RM4," Murugiah said. "A kilo of almonds rose from RM27 to RM32, dried chillies from RM9 to RM12 while a kilo of milk powder increased from RM12 to RM19.50," he claimed. Murugiah said there was also a shortage of cooking oil, fresh coconuts and fresh flowers for the celebrations this year. Meanwhile, a check by theSun revealed shopping at wet markets is much cheaper. A few wet markets checked out offered much cheaper prices and more choices. At Selayang wholesale market, onions were priced at RM1.80 per kilo while at supermarkets it's usually sold at RM3.29 per kilo, while potatoes were RM2 per kilo and RM3.49 in supermarkets. Other good such as eggs and a variety of vegetables add up to savings of between RM1 and RM1.5 a kilo compared to supermarkets. A box of Sea Master water (1500ml x 12 bottles) is sold at RM6 at the wholesale market while elsewhere it can cost up to RM20. Chicken can cost up to RM10 per kilo at supermarkets and between RM6 and RM7 at wholesale markets.