Rise in food prices highest this July in five years

Report says price escalation not as high as made out to be

Just as most parts of the world, Bhutan, especially residents of Thimphu continue to feel the pinches of inflation and rise in living cost. However, the competition and consumer affairs authority’s report on average price change of essential commodities in Thimphu town, say that the changes in the prices of commodities are very steady.

The report shows minor changes in the prices of commodities, underlining that fluctuation is not huge. 

For instance, the report shows that the price of rice in the capital rose from Nu 823 to Nu 1332 as of July 14, 2023, a mild decrease in the price as compared to Nu 879 to Nu 1366 as of June 27, 2023.

Similarly, changes in the price of lentils (dal), instant noodles and salt observed slight fluctuations. Prices ranged from Nu 10 to Nu 122 as on July 14, 2023 compared to the price from 27 June, 2023, which was Nu 10 to Nu 129.

Concerning changes in the price of flour and toned milk, the report showed slight increase and decrease in the price as compared to July 14 and June 27, 2023. The report shows that the price of one kg of atta was Nu 56 as of July 14 as compared to Nu 62 as of 27 June, 2023.

Similarly, the price of the maida was Nu 59 as of July 14 and Nu 69 as of June 27, 2023, a decrease in the price by Nu 2, while the price of toned milk has slightly increased by Nu 2; from Nu 71 as of June 27 to Nu 73as of 14 July.

An official from the ministry of industry, commerce and employment (MoICE), said that the price of the essential commodities will never escalate to very high rate. He said that instead price will differ by only few amounts as the vendors will never keep high margin of profit, unless there are uncertain circumstances. 

He added that there are chances of price hike for hard ware items with real time gross settlement (RTGSS) as the country is currently facing a shortage of Indian currency (IC) and the government has stopped the imports of hardware items. While this can be one area for price escalation he said that the ministry didn’t receive any complaints as of now.

Similarly, a vegetable seller in the capital said that the only hike in price concerns tomato which cost Nu 150 per kg. He said that there has not been a huge rise in prices of other vegetables.

“Most prices of vegetables in my stall are very reasonable and the price has not escalated much,” the vendor said, adding that the cost of some vegetables differs due to transportationcosts, distance and seasons when vegetables are available or not.

Similarly, the official from the competition and consumer affairs authority said that the price of essential good keeps fluctuating in the market but unlike other commodities, the price of essential goods will not escalate by a huge amount.

The authority’s official said prices of vegetables depends upon economic factors such as seasonal veggies, transporting costs, fuel cost, demand supply, imports and exports, amongst others.

A grocery shopkeeper in the capital said that the price of essential goods has increased as compared to few years back. He said improved living standard is also a reason for price escalation.

“With global inflation and our country being an import oriented, I as a businessman feel that the price of all goods will keep on increasing and that the consumers should be aware of this in the future,” he said.

Meanwhile, the latest data from the national statistics bureau’s (NSB), the consumer price index of May, 2023 showed an increase by 3.40% as compared to the same month last year for consumer goods and services.

The report shows that both food and non-food process have increased by 3.22% and 3.57% respectively. However, the prices for transport decreased by -3.36% and the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages increased by 3.24%. Prices for housing and utilities increased by 10.35% and that of health increased 13.18%.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu