Living costs today in Sri Lanka

Harold Gunatillake

The rich, newly or otherwise, will be rich always; will never feel the hunger pains of the suffering masses. They live, most of them in architect designed homes, one or two luxury vehicles in the double garages, eating rich food, obvious from the visible obesity problems they carry. That class of achievers is essential in a capitalistic society to keep the economy viable and a necessary asset. This brief article focuses on the non-achievers, battlers and the unfortunates who are deprived of the basics in life, and the numbers seem to increase day by day. This could be assessed from the number of people begging on the roadsides near traffic lights, when you wait for the green light.

One year ago a good size papaw in the Wellawatte market was approximately Rs. 60 and today the same size papaw is Rs 200. Within a period of one year the prices have doubled and over. These fruits are locally grown without any care, or fertilizing with no cost to the producer. But why have the prices doubled within one year? Your guess would be as good as mine.

DSC02017(1) The battlers are unable to enjoy fruits grown in this country, unless they have their own fruit trees in their gardens. Most of them would prefer to sell home-grown garden products at the Pola or wholesaler, rather than consuming them. What this means is that these people are deprived of antioxidants and micro-nutrients, without their knowing, that are very essential for healthy living. This may be responsible for part of their malnourished situation and inability to earn a living through hard work. They even become victims of communicable diseases like dengue due to the poor sanitary environments.

Vegetable prices have skyrocketed. The vendors seem to be delighted with the situation, and the bargaining power is restricted as the prices are similar among vendors in the area. Prices of vegetables have doubled within one year compared to the previous year. A kilo of rice is about Rs 140 in the super-markets. A coconut fortunately has come down in price from Rs 60 to Rs 50. 500 grams of any vegetable, varying from cabbages, brinjals, parippu are over Rs 200. Chillie powder, curry powder, turmeric powder are beyond the reach of the average battler. Onions fluctuate in price, about Rs 150 a kilo.

The commoners are seen buying 10 beans, two tomatoes, one brinjal, just that they cannot afford to buy in terms of kilos. They even buy cut half a loaf of bread for a family.

So, where do the battlers patronize for a quick cheap bite? The way side little hotel, where hot foods like hoppers, string-hoppers, parathas are sold, so convenient and cheaper to buy, than cooking at home. Most of these working people buy these foods on the way home after work.  This is the lifestyle of the battler.

Prices of essential commodities seem to be going up all the time. Furthermore, the prices are individualized. For trouser people or a lady wearing lipstick, the prices seem to be higher.

The battlers need to pay for the usage of power, water, rent and rates among other things, in addition to finding money for food for the family

The economic burdens of the battlers will prevent them finding the time for daily exercise, or go for an outing with the family during weekends.

This is life in Sri Lanka today.

What is the solution? The politicians, so far have not found a solution, neither can we find a solution, other than adjustments.

Attached is an ad. of food prices.  A few rupees less than usual. Prices
will be higher next year.

Notice the range of rice, the lower end which is as good as those at the
upper end. No stones, nor weavils.

In the farms the cheaper rice may be even Rs 10-15 cheaper.
Wheat flour at Rs 105/ or so is expensive, so the locals prefer rice
products- roti, hoppers, pittu, mani pittu string hoppers all not
adulterated with wheat flour as was in the old days.

Imported potatoes at Rs 100 but local at Rs 180 !

Kadala( chick pea at Rs 135/) will give 15 breakfasts at 70gm per head.
Gothamba rotti needs to be out of wheat, so more expensive, not too popular

Koththu rotti is popular with its hypnotizing staccato beat, the louder the
clang the more the  relish!

Most upper rung folks too now go for healthy foods such as
kankung, mukunuvenna, a variety of greens, some new local ones such as
thebu, asamodagam, vaathabanga, neighbours ‘fence adorning’  angunukola.
Actually any green aound is eaten barring grass!

Wheat flour has a place for Chinese rolls, pastries, morning bread.

Isso wade-parippu- with a good sized isso is crusty around Rs 17/ at Punchi
Borella, even better than what you ate near Galle Face.
Ulundu wade is expensive at Rs 35- 40/ with the grain being near Rs 300.

A buth packet, always with enough and more rice ranges from Rs 80- 120.
Always with an egg- the cheapest protein, fish or abit of chicken.

Large coconut as costly as a Kg of rice.

Plenty of tubers, manioc Rs 60, batala Rs 120, yams, gahala, kiri ala, raja
ala, nelum dandu, kohila kola or roots.

The rains seem not to affect prices this year; may be leeks, but spring
onion with stems are tastier, much cheaper.

Large Ambul plantain is about Rs 9,  kolikuttu double that.
Papaw at Rs 70-80, the yellow thin skinned villager variety making a come

Plenty of local fruits around, not many  prefer apples and grapes of yore. Bread  ‘raaththala’ = 335gm only is Rs 60 in the local crusty grades (ymmm!) but up to even Rs 200 for exotic unwanted breads.

Today my buth packet at Rs 120 had 8 items; rice, a good sized tuna fish piece, parippu, maalu miris, pol sambol, keera green, papadam, a roasted chilly.
In contrast a Kentucky fried chicken meal with local buriyani rice will be Rs 290. Most restaurant Chinese meals are at Rs 1500/ minimum.
A home-made biryani ‘savan’ free pots and all is around Rs 2900. Enough for 6 Muslims or 11 of other ethnicity. They eat more but do need it as they produce more!
Salaries:  My driver gets Rs 18,000 plus food. A labourer about Rs 800 to Rs 1000/ Lower office grades earn about the same.
Taxis and doctors in Colombo, at a low ebb with the Ramazan on.
For your info. And enjoyment.


Filed under economic processes, life stories, population, sri lankan society

4 responses to “Living costs today in Sri Lanka

  1. Chandre Dharmawardana

    The writer says
    “Today my buth packet at Rs 120 had 8 items; rice, a good sized tuna fish piece, parippu, maalu miris, pol sambol, keera green, papadam, a roasted chilly.”

    This does not show that the cost of living is HIGH is Sri Lanka.
    Quite the opposite.

    This (rice & and curry packet) is a well balance meal, with greens, proteins. presumably one such meal a day would be enough. So even if a person eats out everyday, it would seem that Rs 4000-5000 would be enough for food. Add another Rs 5000 for other expenses, suggests that Rs 10,000 would be a bottom-level wage which is sufficient. The writer’s driver gets twice that plus free food and so the driver is well of. The laborer’s quoted salary (Rs. 800) must be per day.

    I am amused by the author’s stereotypical claim that “Muslims” eat more. I wonder if he has any Muslim friends and if he knows family from that community closely.

    He will find that poor, uneducated people breed more, and rich and/or more educated people breed less, irrespective of the community although one must recognize the existence of strongly religious anti-family-planning faiths.

    • Ramesh

      Chandre Dharmawardana,

      120/= is per meal, and you estimated around Rs 4000 – 5000 based on the person is having one meal per day, you need to consider the breakfast and dinner too, considering it i would say it comes around 15000 – 20000 for food alone…

  2. malaka

    Who is this Joker.. His Rants of the so called ‘RICH’ as achievers is a very very childish loose term.. The Rich we Lankan’s know Many a Political criminal who has their fingers in the Nations Treasury..with their corrupt Business Buddies who defraud the nation every single day.. Thats leaving out the Political Enforcers (The Goons) who are the drug dealers, Human smugglers etc the Honest Lankan has not a chance to share a slice of the kiribath.. with most of the nations wealth sitting in Foreign Bank accounts, and our propped up by Chinese and IMF Loans.. These ‘achievers’ have done their utmost to defraud the nation.. It is the Unsung Remittance workers of the Mid east who keep sri Lanka on the life support machine.. One wonders how much the writer’s ‘Servants’ get and the Type of meals and Un-regulated working hours form the ‘Master’???? for ur enjoyment

  3. jaxon

    Muslims breed more not because islam is anti family planning faith , but because it is the secret agenda of saudi arabia to increase the number of muslims world over and to dominate the world and other cultures. Saudi arabia funds muslims so that one day saudi can control all the muslim country like they do with pakistan. Tell muslims about these things ,they will call you stupid and idiot ,why ,because koran teaches them to humiliate kaffirs where ever they find them. Muslims secretly plan while BBS type of guys make big noise ,thats the only difference. Muslims have no history of protecting other faiths or cultures.

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