How traders make hay amid Coronavirus-lockdown in Manipur

While prices of essential items are under controlled by government measures, various non-essential items are being sold at will at exorbitant prices despite several orders issued by the state government to control price hike

Prices of non-essential items have skyrocketed as some businessmen, taking advantage of the ongoing lockdown, are making hay while most sectors of the economy are suffering following the Coronavirus outbreak. While prices of essential items are under controlled by government measures, various non-essential items are being sold at will at exorbitant prices despite several orders issued by the state government to control price hike.

With the initiatives of the state government, the prices of essential items, including vegetables, which were hiked at the beginning of lockdown were reduced to normal rates.

One Yumnam Binod from Sega Road Konjeng Hazari Leikai told Imphal Free Press that the price of various items which are imported from Myanmar have increased more than double the usual rate. Citing an example, Binod said, “The price of ‘Mico’ snacks has increased to Rs 10 though it was sold at Rs 5 before the lockdown. Mosquito repellent ‘Godzilla’ is now sold at Rs 120 instead of the usual price of Rs 30-40.”

Responding to a query, he said, “The price of Indian made products can be bought at their usual price. On the other hand, imported products are abundantly available but at highly increased prices though Myanmar border trade has been temporally suspended.”

One Rahul Laishram from Kwakeithel Laishram Leikai said, “I bought cement at Rs 800 per bag during the lockdown period from some particular stores. I bought 20 cement bags though I could have waited for the lifting of lockdown. But an astrologer advised that it would be auspicious for the family if the construction work at home is completed within the month of May. So, I bought the cements at much higher rate to complete the construction.”

Owner of ‘Raju hardware’ at Kongba, Raju Singh said that the price of items will have to be fixed depending on the transportation charge. He said that cement bags cost around Rs 570 but their price were increased to about Rs 600 at the beginning of the lockdown.

However, he informed that his shop has been closed down months ago after running out stock. He added that he still receives queries about the availability of the stock and customers are still coming to buy things from the store.

Though efforts have been made to import the materials, there is no vehicle available to transport them. Most of the trucks have been engaged in carrying other essential items and if any trucks are contacted they asked for transportation charge much higher than the usual rate, he said.

No non-essential items have been transported since the lockdown was imposed in the state. However, there are still queries from regular customer regarding the availability of the items and there are customers who still come to the shops.

Moreover, it is also learned that the factories are also running out of stock of raw materials and it cannot be said when the goods will be available again, he added.

Since different shops depend upon a particular dealer to obtain the materials, other shops will soon run out of stock while those with remaining stocks will increase the prices.

To remove the hardships faced by the people of Manipur by the total lockdown, the state government started relaxing the lockdown which has been further regulated time to time based on public response such as congestion during relaxation hours.

During the relaxation hours, shops selling essentials including grocery retail stores and others were allowed to open.To control and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Manipur, the government had also suspended import of non-essential items from other states, including neighbouring country Myanmar

First Published:May 21, 2020, 5:31 p.m.