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The scary rise in the cost of food


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When I came to Panama in 2003, bananas were 3 for $.10. In the last several years they've been $.10 each. This morning my produce clerk told me he had to start selling them be the pound for $.50/lb. How many bananas in a pound I asked. The answer is 3 or 4. This is a 500% increase in the price of bananas in the last 13 years.

The same is true for other commodities. Rice had doubled in price until price controls were introduced. I honestly can't understand how a $400/month employee feeds his family. These price increases are just a nuisance to most of us who draw a social security check. However, to Panamanians, they are devastating.

One of the small things we can do is to support the Buenos Vecinos de Boquete food distribution program. Rising prices have badly hurt their ability to provide a subsistence quantity of food to their desperately poor and handicapped clients. They are an all volunteer organization and stretch every donated dollar. They deliver food to more than 100 local families monthly.

The next time they send out their "Family of the Month" plea for donations. Please reach into your heart and your pocketbook. You can adopt a family, get to know that family, and provide other assistance on a face to face basis. So much better (up close and personal) than a routine donation to United Way in your native country. 

Edited by Admin_01
corrected the year of arrival
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I agree with you, Penny, about the cost of food. Realized that many items (milk, fresh fruits, eggs, beef) more expensive here than in the Northwest part of U.S.

And the cost of utilities (electricity and water)......very expensive here in Boquete.

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35 minutes ago, Pat said:

I agree with you, Penny, about the cost of food. Realized that many items (milk, fresh fruits, eggs, beef) more expensive here than in the Northwest part of U.S.

And the cost of utilities (electricity and water)......very expensive here in Boquete.

Water is expensive for you?  I pay $42 a year.  That seems pretty cheap to me.  I wonder if there is a wide variation in cost over the various water districts.  I live in Volcancito (not Santa Lucia).

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18 hours ago, Pat said:

I agree with you, Penny, about the cost of food. Realized that many items (milk, fresh fruits, eggs, beef) more expensive here than in the Northwest part of U.S.

And the cost of utilities (electricity and water)......very expensive here in Boquete.

Food prices have definitely been rising here but I still find they are relatively inexpensive in Chiriqui and respectfully have to disagree.

Since the north-western U.S. was mentioned, here's a look at Seattle's August 2016 grocery pricing which confirms that the only food items which cost less than here would be whole milk, Coca-Cola, and perhaps apples because they are produced there. However, there are plenty of other fresh fruits and vegetables available locally here at a fraction of the price they would cost elsewhere.

https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/seattle

Cost of Living in Seattle, Washington. Updated Prices Aug 2016. 2016-08-13 17-49-06.png

Water service and garbage collection where we live is under $100 a year, and electricity costs are less than $400 annual. We also have no heating, air-conditioning, or snow removal expense.

Edited by Keith Woolford
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Well.  There are some food products that have shown an increase.  But please, do not include in your comparison imported products from US or Europe.  Only consider the locally produced food and products.  Imported products will be always higher in Panama than in their original country.  Consider that importers in Panama will purchase smaller quantities of products so they don't have any purchasing power.  Panama is a very small market of no more than 4 millions inhabitants.  It could be easily only a neighborhood in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or even Miami.  So it is not Fair to do such comparison.  So any product coming from the US will have in its price structure inland freight to any US port, ocean freight from the US to Panama. Also include handling, customs paperwork and inland freight from the port to the importer's warehouse.

You find some prices higher in Panama but have you ever consider that there are thousands Panamanians families that earn less than $500 and manage to survive with that amount of money??  Monthly income of a middle class professional is about and average of $1800.00.  They could have a decent living here with some occasional "luxuries" of buying some imported products.

 

Regarding utilities.  Potable water + trash fees.  I live in Panama City.  All my three sons live with us while attending college or university.  They shower everyday almost three times a day.  They practice sports and have an active social life and that means heavy loads of washing clothes weekly. I have a water meter installed an I only pay $25/month + $11/month trash-garbage fee.  The rate I pay is the highest because I live in a middle class neighborhood.  It is around $1.50/ cubic meter of potable water!!! A cubic meter is about 1000 liters or approximately 275 gallons of fresh potable water.  Some people find this rate very low for such precious and vital element.

Regarding electric energy.  I concede you that the rate is high if we compare it to other places in the region.  With all the people living in my house. Cable TV in all the rooms, everybody has a laptop and we "need/have to/should"  live with air conditioning in our bedrooms that are only used at nighttime when going to sleep and occasionally in the day when temperature is high and also humidity.  My electric bill is around $300/month!!! It is killing me but itis the amount of electric energy I consume.  Of course that I have started to renew some of the appliances a bought energy saving or inverter type appliances to save some money. I envy you when I read that the climate in the highlands of Panama let you save energy by not needing an energy consumer device like air conditioners.

 

So it is very important to consider several variables when doing a cost comparison

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On 8/13/2016 at 3:02 PM, Pat said:

Suggest you stand by for an increase in your water bill.

Our water bill was $50 per year......The new rate is $185 per year.

Are you kidding?

Our water bill back in Long Beach California was over a $100 a month. Trash pick up was $45 a month. Electricity was $85  to $200 depending on using our air conditioner and heat. Our tax bill on our house was almost $7500 a year. 

We live in Brisas and pay around $50 a month on electricity and $58 a YEAR on water service and trash pick up.  If they raise our water bill  to $185 a year I will gladly pay it with a big smile on my face!

But that is all beside the point. The important thing here IMO is what Penny originally posted:

On 8/13/2016 at 11:00 AM, Penny said:

The next time they send out their "Family of the Month" plea for donations. Please reach into your heart and your pocketbook. You can adopt a family, get to know that family, and provide other assistance on a face to face basis. So much better (up close and personal) than a routine donation to United Way in your native country. 

 

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I live in Jaramillo Arriba and my water bill is $20 a year. Back in Michigan (13 years ago) I was paying about $55 a month for water. For some reason my electrical bill is also much less here. Maybe because I don't need to run a blower on a gas furnace in the winter and maybe because of the approximately $18 pensionado discount I get every month on my electrical bill. I think my bill for weekly garbage pickup here is about $40/year.

I wonder how much bananas are selling for at Walmart in the U.S.

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My posting here is not intended to resolve or fix anything, but rather reflect on the different mindsets as reflected in this postings in this topic, which I find "interesting".

This topic started out talking about rising food costs, but then kinda morphed into utilities as well. Roger B highlighted an important component regarding food costs, and that was regarding imported versus domestic food costs. Thanks, Roger, a valid point.

In general, I see two major themes here regarding the cost of utilities. One theme is that the utilities cost too much (disregarding the quality and reliability of service type issues, etc.), and the other theme is that the costs here are so much lower than what they would be (or were, or are) in the "home country", referring for the most part to the USA.

Going further, I will add that our water bill went up this year from $50.00/year to over $150.00/year. We live in the El Santuario area of Boquete, and water service here and the Alto Lino area in general is provided by Acuaducto de Alto Lino. Can we afford the rate increase? Yes. Is this a good deal when compared to stateside utility costs? Yes.

However, there is an underlying problem here that will likely never be addressed, much less answered. What changed? There is no new equipment. There is no new accounting system. Nothing has changed, but the rate has more than tripled. What is happening with or to the additional funds that are rolling into Acuaducto de Alto Lino? Are all customers being treated equally? Has billing shifted to a usage based concept? If so, where are the water meters? When I ask questions, I get nothing. There are no open books, no new infrastructure, no nothing. Friends advise me to keep my thoughts to myself. That is troublesome, to my way of thinking.

What I seek is transparency.

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2 hours ago, Bud said:

 

Going further, I will add that our water bill went up this year from $50.00/year to over $150.00/year. We live in the El Santuario area of Boquete, and water service here and the Alto Lino area in general is provided by Acuaducto de Alto Lino. Can we afford the rate increase? Yes. Is this a good deal when compared to stateside utility costs? Yes.

However, there is an underlying problem here that will likely never be addressed, much less answered. What changed? There is no new equipment. There is no new accounting system. Nothing has changed, but the rate has more than tripled. What is happening with or to the additional funds that are rolling into Acuaducto de Alto Lino? Are all customers being treated equally? Has billing shifted to a usage based concept? If so, where are the water meters? When I ask questions, I get nothing. There are no open books, no new infrastructure, no nothing. Friends advise me to keep my thoughts to myself. That is troublesome, to my way of thinking.

What I seek is transparency.

 

Bud

You have the right to ask. The people from Acueducto de Alto Lino should inform all their "customers" about those rate increase.  They should provide an explanation about those huge increases.  They need to present all of you a justification of why this increase was made and why it increase 300%.  They provide a service that is regulated under the utilities law and the should follow regulations stated and managed by the ASEP.  The ASEP is like the ACODECO for utilities services.  http://www.asep.gob.pa/

 

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