Bada Inflation at Bada Dasain

Nepal’s consumer inflation reached 8.19% in mid-September compared to 8.64% last year, latest Nepal Rastra Bank figures show.

Food and beverage inflation hit 9.74%, and non-food and service sector prices increased by 6.99% during the review period. The highest costs hit low and lower-middle-income families especially hard during Dasain.

The only saving grace is remittances from Nepali abroad, where even the official inflow figures through banks and registered exchanges have increased to record levels.

The cost of spices (especially important items at festival time) went up by a whopping 45.46%. There is a severe shortage of sugar in the market, and even when available it is 17.86% costlier than last year. Vegetable prices rose 14.51%, and the price of milk and eggs are up 12.6%. Ghee is the only commodity for which the price has declined: by 13.08%.

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Prices in the entertainment and culture sub-category have also increased by 15.55%— with miscellaneous goods and services going up by 12.21%, education 9.10%, household goods 8.11%, as well as furniture and household appliances by 6.59%.

While the inflation rate remains high, wages and salaries have not kept pace. The salary and wage rate index increased 5.25% in mid-September compared to 11.68% a year ago.

The government’s expenditure was Rs131.14 billion while revenue collection amounted to Rs141.08 billion. Gross foreign exchange reserves have also increased by 3.9%, mainly due to remittances and lower imports. Remittance inflow increased by 22.1% to Rs.228.37 billion compared to a 19.8% increase in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, Nepal’s current account and balance of payments were both in surplus during the first two months of fiscal year 2023/2024. The current account shows a surplus of Rs23.5 billion compared to a deficit of Rs36.84 billion during the same period last fiscal year while the BoP had a surplus of Rs53.61 billion by mid-September against a deficit of Rs 20.81 billion during the same time last year.