Feature: Nepal experiences expensive festival as prices of goods soar

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-16 20:40:11|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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KATHMANDU, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- As Nepalis are celebrating Dashain, the biggest festival of Nepali Hindus, people are experiencing an expensive festival due to rise of prices of possibly everything consumed during the festival.

Bhaikaji Tuladhar, a resident from Naikap, at the outskirt of Kathmandu, visited at Ason, Kathmandu's main shopping zone for Dashain shopping, last week to purchase some clothes and footwear for his children and family members but had to give second thought whether to purchase all preferred items due to high prices.

"I usually come to the main market for the shopping during the Dashain festival where goods are available at relatively cheaper price and in wide varieties. But, I found everything expensive this time," he told Xinhua last week.

"They quoted the price of a woman's wear that I wanted more than 3,000 Nepali rupees. The same item had cost half of that amount last year."

There is a tradition of purchasing new clothes, foot wear and electronic items during this major festival in Nepal. Nepalis from around the world visit their elders to wear Tika, a colored paste of rice worn on forehead and get their blessing.

Nepal imports most of these items from China while some are supplied from domestic manufacturers and some are imported from India.

Importers said that the prices of these items have gone up due three major reasons, depreciation of Nepali currency against the U.S. dollar, cost of delay in bringing goods from China due to poor road conditions caused by landslides and increase in valuation of goods by Nepal's customs offices.

The value of Nepali currency against U.S. dollar depreciated heavily in the last two months as Indian currency weakened against U.S. dollar. Nepal has pegged its currency with Indian currency. Nepali currency was valued at 112.14 Nepali rupees per U.S. dollar on Aug. 15. Now, it costs 118.44 Nepali rupees per U.S. dollar as per the exchange rate maintained on Oct. 16, according to Nepal Rastra Bank.

"When we were purchasing goods in China for the Dashain festival, Nepali rupees started to plunge against U.S. dollar which contributed to rise in prices of goods imported from China," said Narayan Giri, a wholesaler of garments at Mahabauddha area of Kathmandu, who also imports most of the garments from China.

Landlocked Nepal imports Chinese goods through both the land and the sea via India. According to importers, many preferred to import through land route this time to bring the goods as early as possible to the market.

According to importers, it takes around three weeks to bring goods through land route directly from neighbor China while it takes around 40 days for bringing goods through the sea.

However, when importers were bringing goods targeting the festival over the last two months, the landslides damaged roads and bridges in several places on the road leading to the Nepal-China border at Rasuwagadhi in Nepal.

Some traders have suggested that there should be massive improvement in transport infrastructure to boost bilateral trade between Nepal and China and to prevent prices from spiking upward.