Starting this year, the fuel price has increased rapidly. Over the past 6 months, it generally increased 11 times with rare drops in between. The price of Petrol was Nu 74.90 and Nu 69.14 for Diesel in January 2022 while the price now has gone up to Nu 91.35 for Petrol and Nu 109.19 for Diesel in July, showing an increase by Nu 16.45 for Petrol and Nu 40.05 for Diesel respectively.
There was some recent relief during the weekend when the price of petrol came down by Nu 9.17 per liter to Nu 91.35 and diesel dropped by Nu 11.49 to Nu 109.19.
Ironically, there were long lines of cars at fuel pumps before the rate change anticipating a rate hike.
The fuel price changes twice a month, once in the beginning of the month while the other in the middle of the month. The increase in fuel price has led to price inflation of the imported commodities and also with the transportation charges which eventually had a negative impact on end consumers.
Due to the frequent price hike in fuel, most of the commodities in the market are selling at a higher rate. Likewise, the public transportation charges were also increased.
This has caused inconveniences to the end users wherein meeting their ends meet at this juncture has become difficult. The same amount of money they used in the past in a month is not sufficient today. Low incomes groups have been severely impacted by the increase of fuel prices.
Meanwhile, a PWD worker Tshering shared that for someone like them who lives on a daily wage it has become a nightmare. “We felt that things will come back to normal with more relaxations, but it is happening the other way round. It’s becoming difficult for us to sustain on what we earn,” she added.
Rigzin Dorji a 45-year-old taxi driver said, “Things has become so complicated for us. We can’t raise the fare until and unless introduced by RSTA. On the other hand, it has become challenging to operate our taxis at the current rate.”
In the past, fuel amounting to Nu 700 would be enough in a day, but now it has doubled wherein fuel amounting to Nu 1500 per day is not enough. He said that they are making a living through taxis which is why they cannot afford to run their business at a loss.
Despite the frequent price hike in the fuel they did not increase their fare, however, with constant increase and that with huge difference they had to informally increase their fare as well, he added.
While there has always been an issue of traffic congestion in Thimphu, Sonam, a Civil Servant said, the frequent hike in the fuel price added more onto it with long lines at fuel pumps.
“It has become so difficult now to commute in private cars at this rate. I now resort to using the bus services to go to office. I don’t take the car unless necessary. Living is becoming difficult in the capital city,” she added.
Penjo, one of the commuters said, since fuel price has increases, taxi drivers are charging higher than the official rate. “Concerned authority should look into the matter because as far as I know the fare revision has not been introduced yet. As a daily commuter it’s very difficult because we have to bear other expenses apart from paying the taxi fare. Things are unaffordable now,” he added.
Melam Rinzin the Manager of Tashi BOD, said that the price has increased from the source and to transport oil to Bhutan, the fuel tanker drivers demand higher transportation charge.
He further said, “While paying high transportation charges, this will ultimately lead to higher fuel price. We are not sure if the fuel price will further increase in coming days or it will remain at this rate.”