Surveys reveal jump in prices due to embargoMarket prices in the Kathmandu Valley have shot up due to a drop in shipments caused by the Indian trade embargo and the government’s inability to control the ensuing black market.
Market prices in the Kathmandu Valley have shot up due to a drop in shipments caused by the Indian trade embargo and the government’s inability to control the ensuing black market.
A market survey conducted by the Society of Economic Journalists-Nepal (Sejon) shows that commodity prices have jumped up to six-fold. The highest rise in prices was seen in petrol and electric heaters which became 573 and 500 percent dearer respectively. According to the study, motorists had to pay as much as Rs700 per litre of petrol on the black market against the government price of Rs104.
Likewise, electric heaters that used to cost Rs250 each jumped to Rs1,500 after the embargo as a cooking gas crisis forced householders to turn to electricity to cook their food. The study also revealed that diesel was being sold at Rs350 per litre on the black market against the official price of Rs81. People were made to pay up to Rs8,000 for a cylinder of cooking gas, more than five times the normal rate.
Meanwhile, food prices rose 150 percent, hotel menu prices swelled 66 percent, prices of electric appliances soared 500 percent and prices of construction materials rose 100 percent, the survey said.
Among food products, prices of edible oil and pulses have registered the sharpest increase. Due to the government’s weak market control mechanism, prices of sunflower oil and soybean oil have jumped 150 and 125 percent respectively. Pulses have become 87 percent dearer. The survey said that the government did not have a clear policy and programme to ensure smooth supply of essentials in the market.
Likewise, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said that government agencies had been “facilitating” smuggling of petroleum products from India.
After monitoring movement in the Tarai districts bordering India for a month, the national rights body concluded that petroleum products were being sneaked in from across the border in collusion with security forces and the local administration.
The NHRC report claimed that petrol, diesel, kerosene and cooking gas were being smuggled through Thori, Nirmalbasti and Subarnapur villages of Parsa district in large quantities.
Security agencies have been lax in stopping black marketing and smuggling at transit point other than Birgunj.
According to the report, around 150,000 litres of petroleum products were being smuggled through Thori alone on a daily basis.