• Short Summary

    Eating, sleeping and just living is considerably more expensive throughout the world than it was a year ago.

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    Eating, sleeping and just living is considerably more expensive throughout the world than it was a year ago. These facts are contained in a survey, published recently, which compares the cost of living in 32 of the world's major cities.

    Inflation -- the soaring cost of living -- brought overall world price increases of between 6 and 11 per cent last year. But vast differences in prices are revealed by the survey; commodities only the wealthy could afford in some countries, are relatively cheap in others.

    Controls introduced last year by several countries in an attempt to curb the relentless spiral of costs were shot to pieces when oil prices took off. The impact of this was already evident in the 1973 survey.

    Hong Kong scored the highest rate of inflation with a rise of 28.1 per cent in its cost of living. The shortage of building space brought huge rent increases during the year. A western-style apartment, at US $1,022 ??? a month, shows accommodation there is the most expensive in the world. In New Delhi, where overcrowding is also severe, a similar apartment can be rented for $300.

    Food prices throughout the world shot up last year mainly as a result of the disastrous harvests of 1972. But in Hong Kong, food remained relatively inexpensive, Tokyo, one of the most affluent cities in the world, has been forced to pay heavy subsidies to Keep basic foodstuffs, like rice, within the reach of the average ware earner. Other foods have risen by huge percentages -- a cabbage by more than 200 per cent, and potatoes by 107 per cent, to name but two.

    Clothing prices on the other hand have stayed at much the same levels thanks to stockpiles of cotton and wool clothing. Cotton is, of course, cheapest in India. And in New Delhi a winter dress, a pair of tights and a pair of shoes can be bought for $14. In Tokyo a similar outfit costs about $180. The Tokyo shopper, needless to say,is much better able to afford the difference. A Secretary for instance last year probably took home more than $83 a week -- at least $50 more than a secretary could earn in New Delhi.

    Conventional luxuries like liquor very epormpusl in price. To get drunk on whisky in New Delhi the dubious pleasure of only the very rich, with Scotch selling at $53 a bottle. In London a spree is relatively inexpensive with whisky at less than $6 a bottle. British men can also look smart without having to dig too deeply into their pockets. An off-the-peg two piece suit costs about $122. ??? To look as dapper in Sydney, and Australian would have to pay substantially more.

    Cigarettes are also expensive in Australia and in Sydney a packet costs three times what it would in Hong Kong.

    In some cases, there are obvious reasons why the prices of certain commodities are low. Argentina, one of the World's main beef producers is able to sell beef steak at 30 cents per pound (less than $1 per kilogram). On the other side of the world, in Tokyo, there is an enormous difference in price; $34 for one pound of beefsteak, $14 for a pound of a less expensive out, ($74 per kg. and $29 per kg. respectively).

    In fact, food worked out cheapest overall in Buenos Arise, the Argentine capital. A basket of food including bread, pasta, oil, butter, cheese and meat was worth $17.35. In Tokyo, the same groceries cost $52.20 more.

    A comparison of weekly earnings showed that the Japanese construction worker, for a example, was only $25 ahead of his Suenos Aires equivalent.

    But should these workers want to rent a car for a week, the table turns dramatically. In Tokyo a medium size four-seater costs about $10 a day to run. In Buenos Aires, the cost is more than trebled.

    The cost of running such a car in India is even more expensive. The increase in oil costs in fact threatens to cripple the country's economy. Oil imports are expected to eat up 80 per cent of the country's export earnings this year, and there seems little doubt that this will send the cost of fuel even higher.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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