Price Increases in Kabul

by James & Miel on August 5, 2008 · 0 comments

While only tangentially related to couples finance – as it affects our spending – I thought I’d get on my soapbox about the price increases in Kabul.

After six weeks out of the country, I’d have to say that it has gone a bit overboard. Prices in Kabul are outrageous.

Back in May, while I was in Vietnam, the price of bread rose 300% in two weeks. It got so bad that there was an attack in broad daylight of gunmen taking over a market to steal flour in Kandahar. Here is a posting on my personal website about the situation.

Well, that was only the beginning. The price of a round trip ticket to Kabul on the discount Afghan airline is now $750 – the UN flight is $1,000. This means that everything is hiked substantially.

Last night at a restaurant we were expecting the $8 well drink at happy hour – that is typical for Kabul. But with the $8 hummus, $10 garlic bread, $17 cheese board – just for the appetizer prices – we ended up skipping dinner altogether and came home hungry and sober after four hours at the bar (watching a documentary about Afghanistan as well).

Basically you can’t go out to dinner in Kabul – even without drinks – for under $20.

While I can feel the sticker shock in my own wallet, I’m even more concerned with local Afghanistan. From what I’ve heard from locals, a family of nine that was previously doing fine on $300-$400 a month in living expenses is now having a hard time keeping their budget to $800.

Now you can imagine that in a stable and orderly place like the states, there would be mad chaos with that kind of price hikes – I know it is feeling like things are headed in that direction – but here in Kabul I don’t know how much longer it will be before there is a backlash.

While there is discussion of increasing troop levels in Afghanistan there is the sinking feeling among Afghans – even those that once supported the US – that we’ve done enough damage already.

Curious where things will go from here. I’m not expecting any bargains around here though.

Best,

Miel

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