Prices of goods have been going up, especially noticeable is the price of fuel and power. 

“Last year, a 20-dollar token would last us 2 weeks, almost 3 but now about a week and we are still using the same number of appliances,” a retired teacher worriedly expressed of the rising costs of goods and services.

“50 dollars used to get us rice, chicken, and token for a month but now I’ve to get smaller rice and a power token for the same amount,” another woman shopping for her family stated. “It was hard before but it’s getting harder now.”

The sentiments are supported by the latest economic indicators released this March 2020.  Prices of goods and services overall rose by 2.2% compared to last quarter with marked increases in Housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuel groups.  Transport, Food, and non-alcoholic beverages, household equipment, and others rose by 2.3%  The only items that declined were miscellaneous goods that included hygiene products.

Other items or services largely driven by fuel groups saw huge increases over the past year.  For example, Housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels increased by 27.8% in 12 months.  Transport increased by about 18%, and Food and non-alcoholic beverages increased by 14%.  The report further states that items that contributed to the increase in group prices overall include electricity, plywood, LP gas, fuel, air travel, airline tickets, beef, pork, chicken, and vegetables.

Other indicators show the number of containers shipped to Palau dropped by -8.4% compared to March 2021, last year. 

Despite the increase in the price of goods and reduction in inbound containers,  March 2022 report revealed increases in total imports by 58%.  There was a 200% increase in the volume of fuel imports.  There was an increase of 109% in the import of vehicles, aircraft, and transport equipment. These were due in part to donations of fishing vessels, floating docks, vehicles, and tractor trucks.

Visitor arrivals also rose by 1,536, still low compared to the pre-COVID period, but it is still higher than the previous year due to the easing of travel into Palau and the opening of borders.

The tourism market shares showed US/Canada with 76% share followed by Japan with 7%, Europe with 4% and Taiwan at 3%.  There was no visitor from China, where pre-COVID, Chinese has nearly 50% of the total tourism market share.

While recovery is happening slowly, prices of goods may continue to remain high. The conflict in Ukraine and other external factors affecting the prices of fuel are beyond Palau’s control.

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