Wednesday 29, June 2022

Prices worry consumers as Ramadan nears

The prices of daily essentials have continued to soar for the past few months on the local market despite various government initiatives to contain the prices ahead of Ramadan, beginning in the first week of April.

The prices of atta, red lentil, sugar, garlic, beef and palm oil have seen another upward movement in the past one week in the city.

The government has, meanwhile, taken steps to keep the supply of edible oil, sugar, red lentil and gram available on the market as the demand for the commodities goes up during Ramadan.

Market analysts said that the government should ensure effective monitoring of the commodity market to keep stable the prices as well as the supply of essentials during Ramadan.

They noted that the fixed- and low-income people had already been struggling to keep their household expenditure in check due to the exorbitant prices of essentials.

According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, inflation in the country increased to 6.17 per cent in February while it was below 6 per cent in January.

State-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh data, however, showed that the prices of essentials, including atta, edible oil, sugar, red lentil, eggs and onions, had increased by 10 to 40 per cent in one year.

Centre for Policy Dialogue executive director Fahmida Khatun said that the government inflation data were contradictory with the real situation of commodity prices.

The skyrocketing prices of daily necessities have increasingly eroded the purchasing capacity of low-income people but the government data on inflation do not reflect the real picture, she said while presenting a report on commodity prices at an event on Sunday.

Fahmida, quoting a CPD comparative report on prices, also said that the prices of essential items, including edible oil, atta, eggs, onions, beef and milk were higher on the local market than on the international market.

‘It has become extremely difficult for poor people like us to survive as the prices of all the essentials have increased by leaps and bounds recently,’ said Saidur Rahman, a caretaker of an apartment at Mohammadpur in the city.

Mentioning that the government is selling soya bean oil, onions, red lentil and sugar at subsidised rates in the city, he said that it was difficult for a working person to spend 2-4 hours in a queue to buy the items.

According to the TCB data, the price of unpackaged atta has increased by 2 per cent to Tk 35–40 a kilogram in the past one year while the price of packaged atta by 25 per cent to Tk 40–45 a kg.

The price of a five-litre container of soya bean oil has increased by 26.40 per cent to Tk 780–800 while the palm oil price by 40 per cent to Tk 155–160 a litre over the period, showed the data.

The data further showed that the price of the coarse variety of red lentil had increased by 44.44 per cent to Tk 95-100 a kg in one year while the medium-quality variety of the item had gone up by 32.35 per cent to Tk110–115 a kg.

The price of eggs has increased by 27.31 per cent to Tk 36–38 a hali, four pieces, and beef by 17.59 per cent to Tk 650–700 a kg in one year.

The price of sugar has, over the period, seen a 14.49 per cent increase to Tk 78–80 a kg, the government data showed.

‘This year, we are not thinking of any additional item in our dish during Ramadan as plain rice and vegetables have become so costly,’ said AbdulAhad, a delivery man of a food company in the city.

His family, he said, has not eaten beef or mutton for years while broiler chicken and eggs have now become a luxury for them.

‘These days, I feel helpless as my family expenses have gone too high due to the soaring commodity prices for the past few months,’ Ahad said.

‘The poor and fixed-income people are suffering most because of the soaring prices of essential commodities as their income is not increasing,’ said Consumers Association of Bangladesh president Ghulam Rahman on Monday.

He urged the government to ensure effective market monitoring and stop extortion on transports carrying goods to keep the supply and prices of essential commodities tolerable on the market during Ramadan.

The government agencies should also remain alert so that no dishonest traders can create artificial crises of commodities during the fasting month, Ghulam Rahman further said.

He urged the affluent consumers not to create any pressure on the market by buying Ramadan essentials in large quantities at a time.

Earlier, at a meeting on Sunday, commerce minister Tipu Munshi said that the stock of Ramadan essentials was sufficient, adding that if any one tries to manipulate the market the government would take stern actions.


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