Sujan Dhungana, The Himalayan Times, Oct 11,2018
The biggest Hindu festival may not provide as much festive cheer this year, as everything is costlier thisDashain compared to previous years.
Along with the set cultural norms and values associated with celebrating Dashain in Hinduism, the festival in Nepal is also related to consumption, shopping and travelling. However, the level of celebration may be dampened this year as all aforementioned three aspects of Dashain have become dearer this year.
The consumption of different foods, basically fruits, meats, oil and flour, among others, is usually high during Dashain. However, all these consumables have become costlier in the market compared to theDashain market last year.
Compared to last year’s Dashain, price of apples and pomegranates has increased by Rs 10 per kg to Rs 125 a kg and Rs 45 per kg to Rs 235 a kg, respectively. Similarly, price of bananas has surged by Rs 10 per dozen to Rs 75 in the review period. Similarly, price of meat, especially mutton, whose consumption spikes during Dashain is certain to rise owing to the rise in price of live goats.
The Nepal Food Corporation (NFC) today fixed the price of live goats, that it plans to sell for Dashain, at Rs 510 per kg, Rs 25 per kg more compared to price of live goats last Dashain. Likewise, private traders have been saying that live goats will cost around Rs 550 per kg this Dashain against last Dashain’s rate of Rs 510 per kg following low domestic production and increased price of goats in India — the major supplier of livestock for Dashain in the Valley.
Going by the statistics of Nepal Retailers’ Association (NRA), price of other food items like oil, flour and some varieties of rice has increased notably. “Though the price of other foods is constant compared to previous Dashain’s rate, price of different varieties of mustard oil has increased by up to Rs 20 per litre to an average of Rs 150 a litre, while price of flour has gone up by five rupees per kg to Rs 55 a kg. Similarly, price of Indian Basmati rice has also surged by up to Rs 80 per 20-kg sack,” informed Pabitra Man Bajracharya, president of NRA.
Dashain also means that people go on a shopping spree, especially of apparels. However, similar to edibles, the price of apparels has increased notably in the market this time around.
Though garment traders and manufacturers in the country are reluctant to comment on the price issue, cost of garments including pants, shirts, T-shirts and shoes, among others, has skyrocketed in the domestic market lately. “I have no idea,” said an official of Garment Association of Nepal (GAN) when asked about the price issue.
The third aspect linked to Dashain is movement, which is higher compared to normal times and people usually travel to their hometowns to celebrate the festival. However, those commuting in both public and private vehicles will find the travel cost has gone up this year. While government’s recent decision to raise public transportation fare will hit commuters using public vehicles, the constant rise in the price of fuel will also affect those travelling in private vehicles.
In a nutshell, people will be obliged to celebrate an ‘inflated Dashain’ this year.
Meanwhile, consumer rights activists said that goods and services in the domestic market have become dearer this Dashain in an arbitrary manner.
“We do not have control over the natural rise in inflation. But traders and businesses here are increasing the rates of goods and services arbitrarily on their own amid weak intervention of the government,” informed Madhav Timalsina, president of Consumers’ Right Investigation Forum.
On the other hand, the government says it is committed to curbing ‘illogical’ inflation in the market. “We are deploying 15 market monitoring teams in the Valley from Friday to cross-check anomalies. These inspection teams will primarily focus on monitoring the major markets in the Valley and those goods whose demand is higher during Dashain,” informed Nabaraj Dhakal, spokesperson for the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies.