Essentials dearer due to higher import costs

- Rajesh Khanal, Kathmandu

Aug 11, 2016-

Prices of daily essentials, particularly sugar and pulses, have shot up over the last one month. Traders have attributed the jump to shortages and a hike in import and factory gate prices.  

According to retailers, prices of essentials have spiked 12.5 percent to 50 percent over the past month. Sugar has jumped to Rs90 per kg from Rs70 per kg a month ago. Likewise, black gram now costs Rs180 per kg compared to Rs120 last month.

Ghanashyam Shrestha, a retailer at Ratopool, said essential goods had become dearer in recent days. “Wholesalers said that they had to raise prices after import costs went up,” he said. 

Nepal imports pulses from India, Canada and Myanmar, among other countries, according to traders.Meanwhile, the Indian media has reported a drop in the production of pulses and sugar in India. “Pulses production is estimated to be down to 17.06 million tonnes through July 2015-June 2016 from 17.15 million tonnes in the previous year,” said the Economic Times.

Likewise, India’s sugar output has been estimated to have dropped to a seven-year-low due to drought. “As a result, domestic refined sugar prices surged 70 percent last year,” Indian media reported. “Due to the reason, the Indian government has recently levied a 20 percent duty on sugar exports to prevent further gains in local prices.”

According to Nepal Rastra Bank’s statistics for the first 11 months of the last fiscal year, the consumer price index of pulses increased 35.3 percent in the 11th month. Similarly, the price index of sugar rose 12 percent. 

Pavitra Bajracharya, president of the Nepal Retailers’ Association, also attributed the rise in pulses price in India as the main reason behind soaring prices in the domestic market. “As most agro products are imported from India, a short supply there has directly hit domestic prices,” he said. 

Bajracharya blamed a drop in supply by state-owned Salt Trading Corporation for soaring sugar prices. The company has a stock of 5,000 tonnes of sugar against the country’s annual requirement of 220,000 tonnes. “Besides, possible cartelling by big traders has also created a shortage that has affected prices,” he said.

Published: 11-08-2016 13:54

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