Consumers bear the brunt of rising essential prices
A vendor waits for customer at a kitchen market in the capital's Gopibagh on Friday amid rising rice and cooking oil prices in the city market.
Al Amin :
The prices of rice and edible oil have gone up in the city's kitchen markets after a sharp increase in the onion and other vegetable prices across the country.
Consumers and market experts said that the price volatility in the essential commodities caused serious hardship for the poor and lower middle-income groups of people as many of them lost their income due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Traders, however, said that rice prices increased due to the shortage in the supply of rice on the market, while edible oil prices went up due to the hike in the prices on the international market.
Earlier, the prices of onion witnessed a sharp rise in the country as India imposed ban on export of the commodity on September 14 and the vegetables have been selling at high prices for all most three months due to the recent flood and heavy rain across the country. Most of the vegetables were selling at Tk 60-80 per Kg.
Visiting different kitchen markets in the city, this correspondent noticed that the prices of fine varieties of rice have increased by Tk 1-3 per Kg. The standard variety of BR-28 rice was selling at Tk 50-52 a kg and the fine variety for Tk 54-55 a kg in the capital on Friday.
The standard variety of Miniket rice was selling at Tk 56-58 a kg, while the fine variety was selling at Tk 60-65 a kg. The fine variety of Najirshail rice was retailing at Tk 60-65 a kg.
Maksud Alam, a retailer
of Mohammadpur Krishi Bazar, said that the wholesale prices of rice increased by Tk 50-100 a bag (50 kg) in the last couple of days.
Food Ministry sources said that the Ministry is yet to take any decision to import rice, although the Prime Minister has already given approval of importing it.
They also said the price of rice increased by Tk2-3 normally at the transitional time of paddy and hopefully it will be reduced within short time.
Â Meanwhile, the prices of unpackaged soya bean oil and palm oil have increased by Tk 5-6 a litre in the course of last five days. Unpackaged soya bean oil was selling at Tk 90-95 a litre while palm oil at Tk 85-86 a litre on Friday.
One litre of bottled soya bean oil was selling at Tk 108-110 while five litres of packaged for Tk 490-540 on the day.
Md Golam Mawla, President of Bangladesh wholesale Edible Oil Traders Association, said that the prices of edible oil increased on the international market in the last few months but the prices of the commodity went up on the domestic market recently.
He said that the production of edible oils remained suspended in source countries due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bangladesh, Golam Mawla said, fully depends on import for edible oils and the items' prices would remain high until they went down on the international market.
Saidul, who worked as a security guard at an apartment building in the city, said that he lost his job due to the pandemic and now his family has been passing through severe hardship as the prices of essentials were increasing every day.
Commerce secretary Md Jafar Uddin said that a number of monitoring teams were working in markets to keep the commodity prices stable and hopefully, the prices of essentials will come down within a short time.
Ghulam Rahman, President of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh, said, "There is no acceptable reason for the rise hike as the country produced a surplus of the staple crop."
"A group of unscrupulous traders take advantage of higher demand and then hike prices accordingly. The government should take strict action against those syndicates," he added.
"Many private-sector employees have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the price hike of essential commodities has put them in an untold suffering,"' G. Rahman said.
He urged the government to raise the rice stock through immediate import and bring those traders manipulating the market to book.
Palash Mahmud, the executive director of Conscious Consumer Society (CCS), said that the government should make a vigorous attempt to control the kitchen market prices for the sake of the consumers.
"It is true that in Bangladesh, the monthly income of a consumer does not increase at the same pace with the prices of essential commodities increase everyday. It exerts a big pressure on him. It is tough for him to maintain his family properly," said Mahmud.