While the lockdowns have ended, they added that prices have inflated
The customers in Phuentsholing are complaining about the shop owners in the border town charging high prices on most commodities.
They say businesses charge more than double the prices after the border town was eased from the repeated lockdowns that were imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the lockdowns have ended, they added that prices have inflated. The prices for a wide variety of goods, from grocery items to clothes, have seen a rise.
According to the residents of Phuentsholing, one liter of refined oil now costs about Nu 125, which was just Nu 90 a few months ago.
The wholesale price of one carton of Koka noodles was Nu 675 in the past and now it costs Nu 775. The retail price for one carton of Koka is Nu 820 in Phuentsholing.
One of the customers in Phuenstholing is oblivious to why they have to pay more now for what they buy.
Another resident of the town, Dema said that prices of commodities are all sky rocketing and concerned agencies should do something about the issue.
“The prices of goods are cheaper in Thimphu and Paro these days. An item costing Nu 50 in Thimphu will cost Nu 100 in Phuentsholing,” said another resident, Tshering Kibu, adding that shopkeepers in the town are charging high prices on everything.
Another regular shopper in the town, Passang Lhamo said prices for clothes are high too.
She added that of having noticed that even those in the wholesale business of fruits and vegetables sell at higher prices and these prices are further increased by the retailers.
“Another unpleasant behavior of the shopkeepers is that they don’t even allow exchanging an item if it was taken mistakenly,” she added.
With most commodities becoming exorbitant in Phuentsholing, a Pasakha resident said some people buy things from Thimphu as an item priced Nu 150 in Thimphu will be Nu 300 in Phuentsholing.
Similarly, Phurba from Kharbandi shared that things are cheaper in Thimphu.
While the public understands the difficulties in importing and the increased transportation charges because of the pandemic, Phurba prices should not be increased so drastically.
“The problem is that prices are rising, but incomes aren’t,” he said, adding that it is arduous for him to save now. “I have to shop at the discount stores.”
However, shop owners say that prices may differ from shop to shop, depending on the quality of the items.
Ugyen Wangmo, who runs a cloth shop in the town, admitted that a few commodities in Phuentsholing are more expensive than in Thimphu.
However, she said, “I offer clothes for reasonable prices.”
She added that prices may also vary depending upon the location of the shops.
Pasang Choden, who runs a bar and restaurant, said that there has been no issue with the prices of items that she sells.
“Prices are fixed and there is no complaint so far,” she added.
However, Chehchey, an owner of a grocery shop in the town, said that the prices of items have increased from India only.
He said he keeps a profit margin of Nu 5 for each item inclusive of the transportation charges.
However, he said, “We do not charge Nu 5 less than the Maximum Retail Price (MRP).”
The regional director of the trade office in Puentsholing, Sonam Dhendup said that the prices of some goods might be fluctuating due to the unavailability and market situation.
However, he added that the trade office did not receive any formal complaints about price hikes.
According to the office of the regional trade in Phuentsholing, they have submitted the Market Price Information (MPI) data to the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP), which is carrying out the Consumer Satisfaction Survey in Phuentsholing Thromde.
The report of the survey is expected to come out this month.
Sangay Rabten from Thimphu