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From New Zealand to Nigeria: the global toll of the cost of living crisis

Esta notica es propiedad de: The Guardian

A photo of iceberg lettuce heads with $11.99 (£6.80) price tags went viral in recent weeks – leading to a wave of a tongue-in-cheek lettuce memes nodding to rising food, fuel and energy prices.

The cost of vegetables alone has increased 12.7% year-on-year. Recent floods ruined crops in New South Wales and Queensland, while the cost of fertiliser is up 120% from 24 months ago.

Soaring power prices are also threatening to stoke further inflationary pressures. Gas shortages and climbing wholesale power prices across some states could lead to a particularly bleak Australian winter for some.

Low-income earners have been hardest hit.

Jeff Laming, a 42-year-old disabled single father from regional Victoria, can’t afford to eat roughly five days out of every fortnight. “We haven’t eaten fresh fruit or vegetables since February,” he said, adding that he is suffering from scurvy.

“Frozen oven-baked meals, low-quality mince meat, two-minute noodles and no-name brand pasta, paracetamol and occasionally soap” were all the items on a regular weekly shop, he said.

Belgium

Inflation is running at 9%, the highest in 40 years, and an average household could face a €500-€600 increase in the cost of living by the end of the summer, one leading economist has forecast. Belgium’s National Bank has said citizens are offered some protection because of indexation policies linking wages to prices, although it also warns that this threatens competitiveness.

Altamirano Zoila Palma, who has been running the Saint-Josse friterie in Brussels for 12 years, said bills had gone “really over the top”. Gesturing at the counter, the Ecuadorian-born trader, who works six days a week, 12 hours a day, added: “Everything has gone up: the fat, potatoes, packaging, electricity, gas, paper, serviettes, forks.”

But she hesitates to raise prices at her kiosk, located in the poorest commune in Brussels, where a large cone of frites costs €3. “I haven’t yet decided because I’m afraid my customers won’t come any more. Because already people tell me it is dear.”

Germany

Inflation, measured as the year-on-year change in the consumer prices index, rose to 7.9% in May, the third record rate in a row since reunification in 1990.

In the car-centric European nation, the crisis has been felt and debated most acutely at the petrol station, where drivers have had to pay more than two euros a litre since March, in spite of government efforts to push down prices.

Energy products in May were on average 38.3% more expensive than in the same month last year, while groceries were up 11.1% year-on-year.

“Sometimes I feel guilty when I tell my customers what the latest price is for a cauliflower, or a bottle of rapeseed oil,” said Ünal Kayan, who runs a small greengrocers on a busy shopping street in central Berlin. “It’s bad, and I fear it’s going to get worse,” he added. Since rising production costs have not yet all been passed on to customers, the trend is expected to continue in the coming months.

India

The annual retail inflation rate is above 7%, wreaking havoc on the tiny budgets of families who have yet to recover from the Covid pandemic. Aside from grains such as rice and wheat, which are provided free for the poor, the price of almost every single item of food has gone up sharply. The cost of vegetables rose by 56% in the last month alone, partly because of a heatwave and partly because of rising input costs.

Rising fuel prices are making it hard for ordinary Indians to fill their scooters to get to work. “I shop for vegetables late in the evening now to buy whatever the vendor wants to get rid of. They’re not fresh at all but I have no choice,” said Ankita Singh from Delhi.

Ireland

In one of the richest countries in the EU a fifth of the population is said to be struggling with soaring prices. Rises in rent, fuel and food have pushed families into poverty and piled pressure on the government for more supports and tax cuts.

Social Justice Ireland, an advocacy group, estimates the overall poverty rate at 19% when housing costs are included, far higher than the official rate. A 7.8% increase in prices in May – the highest rise in 38 years – has been aggravated by an annual increase of 15% in property prices and surging fuel prices.

“I can’t afford to live in Dublin any more, it’s crazy,” said Vivienne, an architecture student who plans to leave Ireland.

Over the past 12 months gas has risen 54%, diesel 40%, electricity 28% and petrol 24%, hitting households and businesses, leaving no one untouched, according to the Consumers’ Association of Ireland. Some meals on wheels providers have doubled the price of a meal to €10. Calls to the charity St Vincent de Paul have jumped 20% compared with last year.

Source: The Guardian

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