Soaring prices strain household budgets

- ZENITH KC, Kathmandu

Apr 30, 2016-

Shweta Manandhar is an out-of-town student, and soaring market prices have made life difficult for her. Her parents send her Rs20,000 per month with which she has to pay for her living expenses, tuition fees, utilities and rental for the apartment that she shares with a friend in Battisputali.

Shweta says she spends Rs7,000 per month on daily necessities. “Among the daily essentials, the cost of cooking oil is very high,” she said. Cooking oil is one of the products whose prices have jumped sharply in recent months. 

Sarita Khadka of Baglung who lives in Kalanki has similar complaints. “My monthly spending on daily essentials has risen to Rs7,000 from Rs5,000 since the Indian embargo,” she said. 

Likewise, Bina Karki, a housewife from Gaushala, complains that her household budget for daily essentials is never enough. Prices have soared following the Tarai unrest and Indian embargo. Inflation has remained in the double digits since mid-November, according to Nepal Rastra Bank. It reached a seven-year high in mid-January due to supply constraints. 

Pulses and cooking oil witnessed the biggest spike in prices. Even after the end of the blockade, there is no sign of commodity prices coming down.

Retailers said that prices of key products, particularly imports from India, had jumped sharply; but prices of locally produced goods had dropped to some extent since the embargo days. 

In the last three months, prices of Pokhreli and Basmati rice that are produced locally have dropped 5 percent, according to the Nepal Retailers Association.

Shopkeeper Sushil Thapa of Thapa Store in Bishalnagar said retailers had no option but to pass on the increase in prices to consumers as everything had become dearer at wholesales stores. “Prices of some products have not changed, but the quantity has gone down,” he said. 

Another shopkeeper Sharu Shrestha said prices could stabilize if the ongoing fuel shortage was addressed. There are queues in front of gasoline stations even two months after the blockade was lifted. With transportation charges still expensive, prices of daily essentials have remained on the high side.

 

Published: 30-04-2016 09:25

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