Myanmar’s commodity prices jump up 90 percent after government pay raise

Myanmar has seen an increase of 10 to 90 percent in commodity prices within a year after the government gave a pay raise of Ks 20,000 in monthly salary to its personnel in 2013, according to sources.

The government gave the pay increase starting from last April, forcing the commodity prices to go up, which started to rise in last June and became even more significant in last December.

Also in this year, the prices of rice, cooking oil and other basic commodities continued to climb, resulting in an increase of Ks 200 to Ks 5000, according to the types of commodities.

The rice price increased significantly this year compared with the figures of previous years; although it used to go up when new rice entered the market seasonally, seeing an increase of Ks 2000 to Ks 5000 for higher quality and Ks 500 to Ks 1500 for lower quality.

Although the price for peanut oil is at a standstill, the price of palm oil increased Ks 200 per viss as it’s a mainly an imported product, and the price of sesame oil jumped Ks 2000 per viss as they reached the local markets in fewer amounts compared to previous years.

Similarly, the prices of fish and meat also went up by Ks 1000 to 5000 per viss. The prices of vegetables made little changes as they cannot be stored for long time and have to be sold as quick as possible once they entered the markets.

“Rising commodity prices are troublesome for housewives. Every day we have to do shopping while keeping an eye to the amount of money in our hand. Commodity prices are ready to hike before salaries increase. The increase in salaries doesn’t bring benefits as the same amount is increased in commodity prices. In the previous time, the salary increased by Ks 20,000 (US $20) but the following increase in commodity prices left us just Ks 5,000 in extra. Now, I heard salaries are going to increase again. I wonder what commodity prices will rise,” said a housewife from Bahan Township.

“Last year, government employees were given a pay raise of Ks 20,000 (US $20). But, they needed to be more frugal than before. In the past, they could buy rice in bags. Now, they are buying rice in quite smaller quantities. It is also the same for oil at their home. No more extra income,” said Khin Moe, a retired government official.

“Salary increase is good, but it is required to control rising commodity prices. I think there is inflation. Business people should not take advantage [on increased salary] to disrupt market prices. Both salary increase and commodity price increase are concerned with the government. So, they should control commodity prices whenever the salaries are raised,” said Suzana Hla Hla Soe, a member of Myanmar Women Entrepreneurs Association.

“People say the increase in commodity prices is inflation,” said Khin Maung Oo, secretary of the Lower House’s Economic and Trading Development Committee. “We need to be able to compare with the increase in commodity prices. We need to be able to compare whether the basic costs or the healthcare costs are not enough compared with the salaries.”

“The increase in gold price is not important. The increase in commodity prices affects the public. Salaries should be increased more in line with the current era. It is important for the commodity prices to increase together with the salaries,” said Khin Maung Oo.

President Thein Sein announced on January 7 that the government is planning a Ks 20,000 (US$20) salary increase for civil servants and an increase in pensions and other allowances on a proportional basic in the upcoming fiscal year.

While there may be some changes in the commodity prices after the salaries for civil servants have been increased, other commodity prices remains the same for now except for rice and cooking oil.

Source: ELEVEN Myanmar

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