Bath Curry Indicator launched

Advocata Institute yesterday (7) launched the “Bath Curry Indicator” (BCI), an indicator that tracks prices of a limited basket of goods consumed in Sri Lanka and provides an indication of how much prices have changed over time.

With the use of such tools, anyone including policymakers and politicians alike has access to 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,” Advocata said.

The newly launched 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 indicator is a tool to see how policies coming into effect directly or indirectly impact food prices.

Naqiya Shiraz, a Research Executive at the Advocata Institute, spoke about the rationale behind the Bath Curry Indicator by commenting that it represents any average Sri Lanka household. Accordingly, the items include 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”.

“Fifty-three percent of the 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,” she commented, thereby highlighting the socioeconomic impact of rising food prices on the general public.

The panellists for the discussion were economist De Mel, Thowfeek Zain, and researcher Naqiya Shiraz. The discussion was moderated by Advocata Institute Research Manager Aneetha Warusavitarana.