- Advocata Institute launches a novel policy tool to track everyday food price changes
Advocata’s latest policy product tracks the average retail prices of a basket of goods and provides an indication of how much prices have changed over time.
With the use of such tools, anyone, including policymakers and politicians alike, can track price fluctuations. This could enable anyone to see if policies have direct or indirect effects on food, which is an essential item and can have a direct impact on the food consumed by households.
The newly launched ‘Bath Curry Indicator’ (BCI) tries to provide such a policy direction while highlighting the importance of the affordability of food. Around 35% of household expenditure is on food and drink. Therefore, the BCI is a tool to see how policies coming into effect, directly or indirectly impact food prices.
Advocata Institute Research Executive Naqiya Shiraz spoke about the rationale behind the Bath Curry Indicator by commenting that the BCI “represents any average Sri Lanka household. The items are Samba rice, beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, brinjals, coconut, green chillies and fish. Therefore, it is important to understand the decisions that impact the prices of goods.
Economist Deshal de Mel stated: “The idea behind the BCI is that in Sri Lanka the cost of living is a concern. The inflation in Sri Lanka has been of single-digit levels for the last two years but it is still a concern for the public. So, Advocata’s Bath Curry Indicator is similar to the ‘Big Mac Index’ by The Economist. It is simplistic and real.”
Economic Researcher and Blogger Rehana Thowfeek Zain was of a similar opinion when she commented that such indicators can be used to highlight the impact of policies that affect people’s food consumption.
According to her, the BCI will “capture a relatable way to cover the cost of living and also investigate the merit behind politicians when they use the cost of living as a hook in their election manifesto”
She further commented that: “53% of Sri Lanka population can’t afford a healthy diet, that’s a huge number. We are food secure but are we nutrition secure? Kids don’t develop as they should. Trade policies should focus on the overall objective and cater to the health of Sri Lanka’s population. Thereby, highlighting the socioeconomic impact of rising food prices on the general public.”
The panellists for the discussion were de Mel, Zain and Shiraz. The discussion was moderated by Advocata Institute Research Manager Aneetha Warusavitarana.