In what has come as a severe blow to the common man, the government has decided to hike the price of the life-saving intravenous drip (IV) by up to 100 percent. The IV drip is indispensable to the treatment of critically ill patients and such a steep rise in its price will certainly make medical treatment less affordable to a wide section of the population. Further, the Electricity Tariff Fixation Commission (ETFC) has hiked electricity tariff by 20 percent on an average, effective from the new fiscal, i.e. July 16.
This is not all, prices of essential food items have also been on the rise, apart from, of course, fuel prices which seem to constantly head north. And it is the common man, the ordinary citizen, who has been at the receiving end of all such hikes.
Inflation is a phenomenon that assumes huge proportions, both socially and politically. Rising prices do not affect just the poor, they also hurt the salaried middle class—both sections that live on limited resources while trying to juggle between multiple necessary expenses. Inflation is not really a new phenomenon, but its extent and effect has been more magnified in recent times. More often than not, salaries and wages do not increase in proportion to prices of necessary goods and services and sometimes, do not increase at all for many years. Thus, the same monetary resources combined with rising prices shrink the disposable income of the poor and salaried sections, severely affecting their standard of living.
There is often a lot of anger and resentment over rising prices, and most people blame the government for being ineffective in checking inflation. This discontentment and frustration at being unable to make both ends meet, leave alone leading a comfortable life, often fuels political and social turmoil. The poor delivery of public services like power, water supply, education and health, among others—as is the case in the country—combined with pervasive corruption and price rise further adds to the woes of the common man, making him even more vulnerable.
Having said that, it is also difficult to completely stem price rise, which in some cases, becomes a necessary evil. It is, thus, imperative for the government and policy-makers to strike the difficult and delicate balance between its revenue needs, the changes in the global economy and the common man’s aspirations. While the private sector also needs to pitch in to ensure the supply of essential commodities remains smooth and affordable, the onus certainly lies on the state.
Now with oil firms having cut fuel prices in India amidst protests (the second cut this month after a record 11 percent hike in May) and global crude prices now relatively stable, the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) must also immediately adjust fuel prices in the country accordingly. However, the government will have to make sure that the reduced fuel price is reflected in the transportation fare, which would bring some much-needed relief to the ordinary man