English | Dzongkha Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Pandemic continues to inflate the price of goods and services

Sep 17, 2021

Bhutan’s inflation is on the rise, adding pressure on household expenditures. According to the National Statistics Bureau, the inflation rate has reached more than 8 per cent on average until July this year. Last year, the inflation rate averaged 5.6 per cent. The rise is due to the COVID pandemic which has disrupted the supply of imported goods and hiked prices of local produce and fuel.

Inflation measures how expensive a set of goods and services has become over a certain period, usually a year. The Consumer Price Index or CPI measures inflation.

CPI shows a consumer’s expenditure on food, transportation, communications, clothing and other housing expenses.

The National Statistics Bureau’s latest CPI revealed that prices of a broad range of products and services increased this year.

The price of betel nuts rose by about 40 per cent, meat by nearly 33 per cent, fish by about 21 per cent. These three food items saw the highest inflation.

The price for cooking oil saw an increase from March this year. It rose by 16 per cent. Shopkeepers say the price for cooking oil increased by more than Nu 300.

Expenditure on transport rose mainly due to an increase in fuel price. Clothing prices also rose by seven per cent.

And this is also increasing the strain in the pockets of the people.

“Today, if we carry Nu 5,000 in our pocket and go shopping, we can buy only a few things. Before, we could buy a lot of things with Nu 2,000,” said Indra Kumar Mongar, in Phuentshogling.

“Food prices have increased a lot. The 5-litre cooking oil which used to cost about Nu 470 to 480 now costs around Nu 780 to 800,” said Jambay Dorji, a Shopkeeper in Monggar.

According to Yeshi Jamtsho, who runs a shop in Phuentshogling, transportation charges have also become high. “Things are expensive. And without charging a bit higher here, we don’t have any profit.”

According to the World Bank, Bhutan’s inflation rate has remained below 5 per cent since 2015. In fact, it dropped to 2.7 per cent in 2018 and 2019. Many economists say inflation could remain high due to the pressure on the supply network by the Coronavirus delta variant and the continued pandemic restrictions.

Sangay Chezom

Edited by Yeshi Gyaltshen

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