It has been seven years since he retired from his job at Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport Undertaking. In these seven years, Prabhakar Lakshman Dhate (70) and his wife Pramila (68), who took voluntary retirement from her job as a municipal school teacher in 1993, have led a modest but comfortable existence in their one-bedroom flat at Goregaon, Mumbai.
Today, the childless duo are worried that their monthly expenses have risen by Rs 1,000 following inflation that refuses to abate.
“Whether prices go up or down, I cannot stop buying regular domestic items such as vegetables, oil and cooking gas,” says Pramila. “I may have to cut on the quantity, but it will again tell on our health and incur medical expenditure.” The couple incurs a monthly expenditure of more than Rs 6,000.
“Thankfully, the prices of milk, public transport, auto and taxi fares have not been hiked,” says Prabhakar. “We have piped gas connection, the rate of which has not been hiked yet. But there has been an increase in LPG cylinder prices and I foresee an increase in piped gas as well.”
A pension of Rs 5,250 drawn by Pramila and some prudent investments made over the years have been enough to cover the couple’s expenses. But Prabhakar feels the comfort zone is under threat.
“Though I am not feeling the pinch because of the pension my wife gets and the investments we have made, the long term impact could take me out of the comfort zone that I am in now,” he says, as he sees no relief from current inflationary pressures arising from an increase in food and crude oil prices.
The couple has invested Rs 6 lakh in the Post Office Monthly Income Scheme that fetches a return of 8 per cent, Rs 4 lakh in government bonds that yields 8 per cent, and Rs. 9 lakh in Government’s Senior Citizen Schemes that fetch 9 per cent.
“We don’t have a lot of expenses and having no children has come as a boon,” says Pramila. “We dread to imagine the financial burden that parents have to bear these days. Even going out to watch movies or plays has become an expensive proposition. Tickets that cost around Rs 100-150 a few months back, now come at Rs 300.” And then there’s the Rs 3,000 monthly outgo on medical bills.
“Let us see how the monsoon advances, because a lot depends on that,” says Prabhakar, looking out at the overcast sky, “And also elections. I have a feeling that inflation will stay high till the polls.”