Browsing 'cost of living' News

Lesley Walker / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only

The cost of food and transport jumped last month amid an economic blockade against Qatar by its neighbors.

But the crisis barely affected the overall cost of living in the country during July, new government statistics show.

Goods and services for local residents were up just 0.2 percent in July compared to the same time last year, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

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That’s because spikes in food and transport were offset by declining costs in other areas, including housing and clothing.

Food costs jump

Food and drink rose 4.5 percent compared to July 2016, while transport costs shot up 7.5 percent year-on-year, the Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics (MDPS) said yesterday.

The higher costs of food won’t come as a surprise to Qatar residents.

Many have complained about rising grocery prices since the neighboring Arab states began their blockade of Qatar in early June.

Shabina S. Khatri / Doha News

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In particular, the cost of fresh produce and dairy goods, many of which were previously brought in from Saudi Arabia, appear to have seen the biggest jumps in price.

This is despite the Qatari government covering much of the additional cost of importing them from further away.

Notably, food costs are more controlled in Ramadan, which ended in late June.

MDPS

Food and drink price increases, July 2017 CPI

This as well as the blockade could explain why June prices rose only by 2.4 percent compared to the same month last year.

Other areas that showed inflation in July include education costs, which rose 3 percent year-on-year; and healthcare, which went up 2.8 percent.

The cost of several other household expenditures fell last month however, offsetting any increases. They include:

  • Clothing and footwear: Down 4.3 percent year-on-year;
  • Water, housing, electricity and fuel: Down 3.6 percent;
  • Recreation and culture: Down 2.5 percent;
  • Miscellaneous goods and services: Down 2 percent;
  • Communication costs: Down 1.1 percent;
  • Restaurants and hotels: Down 0.8 percent; and
  • Furniture and household equipment: Down 0.7 percent.

Meanwhile, tobacco costs remained flat, year-on-year.

So, although some of the prices stickers on goods at the supermarket give the impression that life in Qatar is more expensive, actually in many areas, it is cheaper than it was at the same time last year.

At the beginning of this year, the CPI stood at 1.2 percent – and that was the lowest it had been in the previous 12 months.

Rental drops

Increasingly expensive residential rental accommodation had been one of the main factors affecting living costs throughout 2015 and early 2016.

Peter Kovessy

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However, the residential rental market began softening in the latter part of last year, continuing through early 2017.

Real estate agents DTZ reported in May that slower population growth and increased supply in some housing areas have translated into rent reductions of around QR1,000 a month compared to the last quarter of 2016.

How has your budget changed in Qatar? Thoughts?

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Petrol prices in Qatar will fall by 5 dirhams from next month, the Ministry of Energy and Industry (MEI) has announced today.

That means starting Aug. 1, the costs of Premium (91 octane) and Super (95 octane) fuel will each drop to their lowest levels since January this year.

Premium petrol will cost QR1.50/liter while Super will be QR1.60/liter. The cost of diesel will remain unchanged from July’s prices, at QR1.50 a liter, the MEI said.

MEI

August 2017 fuel prices

While marginal, next month’s price drop comes despite the ongoing blockade of Qatar by neighboring Gulf states and Egypt, who have sought to isolate the country and impose economic sanctions.

However, last week, the head of Qatar Petroleum said the actions had actually strengthened the nation, not hurt it.

At the time, QP CEO Saad Sherida Al Kaabi even thanked the quartet for the blockade.

Fuel fluctuations

The price of Premium grade petrol had risen for five straight months before holding steady at QR1.60 since March. It finally fell 5 dirhams in July.

Aparajita Mukherjee / Doha News

University Petrol Station

Meanwhile, the cost of Super gasoline hit a high of QR1.70 a liter in March. It remained this way for three months before dropping 5 dirhams in June.

And Diesel reached its highest price so far in April and May when it cost QR1.60/liter, until its price fell in June.

Qatar’s fuel prices were fixed by the government until May last year, when officials announced they would fluctuate based on global market conditions.

This was to “raise the efficiency of energy use in the country and raise consumers’ awareness,” the MEI said at the time.

Since then, the cost of Premium fuel has increased by almost 30 percent, Super by 23 percent and diesel by 7 percent.

Thoughts?

Reem Saad / Doha News

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The cost of premium (91-octane) fuel in Qatar will fall by 5 dirhams to QR1.55 in July, the Ministry of Energy and Industry (MEI) has announced.

Though marginal, this is the first time since October 2016 that premium fuel prices are dropping.

Meanwhile, the price of diesel will also fall 5 dirhams to QR1.50/liter.

MEI

July petrol prices

However, 95-octane super petrol will remain at QR1.65, after dropping 5 dirhams in June.

Before that, petrol prices held steady for two months, following five consecutive months of increases, from November 2016 to March 2017.

Gulf dispute

For now, the ongoing Gulf crisis that has left Qatar isolated from its neighbors should not affect petrol prices, according to experts.

RasGas

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Speaking to AFP this month, M.R. Raghu, executive vice president of Kuwait Financial Center (Markaz), said:

“Given the severe supply glut in the oil markets globally, it is quite unlikely that the Gulf spat would lead to a spike in oil prices in the short or medium term.”

However, if the matter escalates into a military confrontation that disrupts oil and gas supply lines, then energy prices around the world would likely soar, some analysts said, according to Al Jazeera.

Currently, Qatar is mulling a long list of demands sent by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE.

It has about a week left to respond, or face a possible “divorce” from the GCC.

Thoughts?