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A surge in the price of consumer goods has hit markets in Chin State following the announcement in February of pay increases to civil servants.
Prices of basic commodities including rice have gone up more than 25 percent even though the pay rise of 20,000 kyat (US$20) to government employees, excluding ministers, will not start until the end of this month.
The cost of a 50 kg sack of Shwe Toe rice, one of the cheapest brands in Chin markets, has increased from 18,000 to 25,000 kyat, while high-quality Paw San Hmwe rice has jumped from 35,000 to 43,000 kyat per sack.
A shop-owner in Hakha told the Chinland Guardian: “As soon as we heard the news, the prices started going up even before the actual pay rise. Locals who are not in the civil service suffer most.”
Salai Lian, a local construction worker, said that their wages remained the same, adding: “Our daily living costs are increasing and we are in a difficult situation.”
Government employees from the rank of office assistant up to a gazetted officer will receive an additional 20,000 kyat each on top of their monthly salary from April.
“Previously, an office assistant got a salary of 30,000 kyats; they will now get 50,000. A gazetted officer will receive 150,000 kyat per month after the pay rise,” said a Hakha civil servant.
Each government employee in Chin State, the country’s least developed region, has been provided with a twofold monthly salary as a form of additional financial assistance since about two years ago.
According to local shop-owners, prices are likely to continue to rise over the next few months.
This article was originally published in Chinland Guardian on 23 April 2014.