Rising Food Prices Affect Vientiane Consumers

Food Prices Vientiane - Photo by Adrian Gnägi
Consumers are urging the government to closely monitor food prices after the inflation rate jumped to 4.73 percent in December. Shoppers, especially in Vientiane, have encountered higher prices for vegetables, beef and restaurant dishes over the past few months. They say it does not make sense that they earn more money but have to spend more on everyday living costs. “We are happy with the rise in our income but it would be better if the sector concerned could keep food prices low,” a government official eating at a noodle soup restaurant was heard to say. The government increased officials’ salaries in October and also added a living allowance. The aim of the fatter pay package is to improve the living standards of civil servants, who work very hard to provide the public with the best service, and to create better conditions for them to run a business. The government also raised the monthly minimum wage in the private sector to 620,000 kip, to make life a little easier for workers and to motivate them to be more productive. A shopper at Nongduang market in Sikhottabong district said vegetables should be cheap right now because they are being harvested in abundance, and this has always been the case in previous years. “This time last year, the price of vegetables such as onions and morning glory was much cheaper,” the shopper said. This week a noodle shop in central Vientianeput up the cost of a bowl of noodle soup from 15,000 kip to 17,000 kip, saying this was necessary because of the rising price of vegetables and beef. Beef is now on sale for about 65,000-70,000 kip per kg in Vientiane markets, up from 50,000 kip earlier this month. According to a report posted on the official website of the Lao National Statistic Bureau, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) reached 112.79 points in December, putting the inflation rate at 4.73 percent. Vendors in Vientiane markets said the recent increase in the price of vegetables was due to a short supply because of increased demand. They said the increasing number of foreign visitors was behind the rise in demand. They also attributed the higher price of beef to a supply shortage. The recent outbreak of animal diseases has meant that the supply of livestock to markets is insufficient. In addition, many people have stopped keeping large livestock due to the lack of pasture. Officials say it is normal for prices to rise when there is a shortage of supply and demand increases. They say the responsible sector should monitor the situation and create appropriate policies to boost the production of goods to meet market demand.

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Market Luke Nguyen

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Vientiane Times, Vientiane Mai
17 January, 2013
Photo Credit: Adrian Gnägi
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