As inflation soars unabated, partly fuelled by the rising crude oil prices, people falling in the low-income category are beginning to literally tighten their belts as prices for essential household goods shoots through the roof.
A sad reality is finally dawning upon us as this trend threatens to put a sizeable portion of our population into the throes of poverty. According to some surveys more than 25,000 families fall under the low-income category threshold, meaning they earn less than Nu 10,000 a month.
Imagine living in a city where one pays more than 50 percent of your monthly income on house rents. The remaining portion of your salaries is barely enough to see one through the month. Hence, the glaring social inequalities and rising resentment among communities which could spell unwarranted social disasters for our country touted as one of the happiest in the region.
The government and the parliament’s denial is establish a inflation control committee last session citing that there is a team already working on it, comes as a little respite because the inflationary trend has become appalling in the past few months and years rendering the low income and salaried lower rung making huge sacrifices in the monthly consumption habits.
We cannot urge the commoners to go for a healthy diet and indulge in more fruits, as is being proposed by our government run by a group of doctors, because it is only through the huge volume of rice that the poor get their nourishments dietary supplements from. Now that even rice has become dearer, and the price is still on the rise, the people are finding it even difficult to buy these essential household commodities.
The government should find an alternative and at least monitor prices of these essential goods so that the desolate can afford to at least put three square meals on their tables. Otherwise our aspirations of going big and jumping into the developing economy bandwagon would have little meaning on the hard hit commoner.
According to the National Statistics Bureau, food prices went up by more than 3.5 per cent in May this year as compared to May last year while the consumer price rose by almost 5.95 per cent in May compared to the same month last year. In addition, non-food prices recorded a higher increase at a little over 8 per cent.
Let us ensure that our citizens do not go hungry because hunger and desperation can lead to social-ills and chaotic communities, which Bhutan, with just about 800,000 people, cannot afford to breed.