People blame commodity price hike on monsoon

Consumers are seeing an increase in commodity prices in many shops, starting from a small paan (doma) shop to major grocery shops. The major worry is that the price hike will spread to all consumer items if the road condition continues to deteriorate due to the bad weather.

To this concern, Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA), Lyonpo Lekey Dorji, said that the ministry  has not received any complaints. “In an ideal GNH country, our shopkeepers should not be charging high to take advantage of the situation. But then again, the forces of demand and supply would reign supreme in a free market place,” he said.

If people file complaints with OCP of MoEA, he said, “We will deal with the issue as per the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, but more than the law itself, I would personally appeal to our shopkeepers to not indulge in such practices.”

However, 45-year-old Dawa Lhamo said that she has had to pay Nu 380 for a pown of peeled doma due to the price hike.  She used to buy the same quantity of peeled doma for  Nu250 before the roadblock on the Thimphu-Phuntsholing highway.

“If this is going to be the situation, then I think the government needs to address such issues. When this is the price of doma then I can’t imagine the price of the other grocery items,” she added.

Another consumer,Tshering Tshomo, said that meat vendors have started selling their old stock of meat (shakam and sikam) at higher prices.

“I tried to ask the vendor what there is an increase in the price, and he simply said it’s due to the roadblock. I don’t think the price hike is related to the roadblock.  I will pay the price increase only if it is increased from the main supply. Paying them extra money unnecessarily is not worth it,” she added.

Similarly, bar owner, Ugyen Tshomo, said that there is Nu 100 increase in the price of a case of beer within a week’s time.

“If roadblock is going to continue for another week then I don’t think we can do business. We have to increase our rate according to the price hike, and meanwhile, we fail to give explanation to our customers,” she said.

As for vegetable prices, a bundle of Saag (greens) has increased to Nu 40 from Nu 25. Also the price of green chilies has been increased to Nu 150 from Nu100.

A shopkeeper who owns a small paan shop said that the price of doma is the same. “Increasing the price depends on the suppliers. If they increase the price then it is obvious that we have to increase the price as we can’t run our business on a loss,” she said.

A 53-year-old vegetable vendor said she bought the produce at higher price from the supplier. “With multiple roadblocks, I bought vegetable from locals, for which I paid a higher price. So accordingly, I charged my customers.”

Along with price increase in commodities, there have been reports of taxi fare increase.

A taxi driver said he refuses to travel due to the risks of bad road condition and weather, however, passengers offer extra money to them for the ride.

“It is not me who asked for extra charge but a group of people came to me saying that its urgent for them to travel towards Phuentsholing, and after denying so many times, I agreed to drop them. I didn’t charge but they decided to pay me Nu 200 extra for each passenger.”

Another taxi driver said, “We have to see both the sides, we travel with risks because that is only our earning. They promise to pay extra from here and when bad time (checking) comes they just deny saying we asked them to pay extra.”

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