“As the cost of essentials rises, we are having to control our expenses,” explains Pampha Khatri, a vegetable vendor in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Ordinary folks struggling to deal with rising living costs is a familiar narrative in many parts of the world right now. Ms Khatri, a 37-year-old mother of two, pulls a hefty basket of greens around with her every day, selling them to her customers. Her burden can easily exceed 30 kilograms. Her family and she live in the Bhaktapur district, which is close to Kathmandu. Her day begins at 3:30 a.m., when she travels out to purchase salad greens and vegetables from surrounding village farms, then transports them to the city to sell.
Ms Khatri’s daily wage is around $20 (£15.30). “My husband is not employed.” As a result, my family is reliant on my employment, and I am also responsible for my two sons’ school fees.
Nepal is a landlocked country between India and China, with a population of roughly 29 million people. Almost all of its critical resources, including petroleum, are imported from India, its southern neighbor. What worries Nepalis like Ms Khatri the most is the rapid climb in fast food prices over the last two years, with no stop in sight. For example, the price of a litre of frying sunflower oil has risen from $1.32 (£1.00) before the pandemic to $2.39 (£1.83) now. According to consumer groups, prices for several basic food items have risen by at least 20% across the country.
The government must maintain sufficient dollar reserves at the bank in order to import necessities such as food and fuel. As a result, the government has just taken a bold step by imposing import restrictions on non-essential products such as vehicles, cosmetics, and gold. Nepal is not alone; countries throughout the region, including India and Pakistan, are experiencing high inflation. And the conflict in Ukraine has just added to the burden, driving up oil prices. To cover its losses, Nepal’s state-run oil corporation has raised fuel prices four times since the beginning of the year.
However, business remains brisk in Kathmandu’s vegetable and general markets. Traders continue to offer vegetables, meat, fish, and other foodstuffs. Despite the fact that many store owners claim that customers are now buying in smaller quantities and bargaining hard to lower prices, many customers are now buying in smaller numbers. Increasing fuel prices, according to one shop owner, means that they are being forced to pay more for the trucks and vans that deliver vegetables and other commodities. The government is attempting to lessen the rising demand for petroleum by adding hundreds of new automobiles to the country’s roadways each year.
“As part of its initiatives to minimize the consumption of petroleum products, we are now considering proclaiming a two-day weekend, rather than a Saturday-only weekend,” Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, the communication and information technology minister of Nepal, told BBC News.
To minimize automobiles and save gasoline, Nepalese authorities may impose limitations on private vehicles in cities, such as only allowing even and odd number plates access on alternating days.
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