The prices of daily essentials are increasing gradually just days ahead of the holy Ramzan causing concerns among the common people. The prices keep rising despite the government’s assurances that the prices of essentials will not increase during Ramzan, citing ample stock of commodities like edible oil, sugar, rice, grams, lentils and flour.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, on several instances, had said his government believes that businessmen would refrain from increasing the prices of essential commodities during the holy month of fasting. He also added that there was no reason for price hike as the stock of the products was much higher than the estimated demand.
However, expressing concern many people said they there is hardly any reflection of the government’s assurances in the market, and the prices were gradually slipping beyond their buying capacity.
Grams, an important item during the holy Ramzan, have seen a price increase of Tk 5 to Tk 7 within a month at different markets. Data from the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) indicates that the price of grams has increased by 8.70 per cent within a span of one month. A month ago, the price of one kilogram grams was between Tk 55 and Tk 60, which now costs anywhere between Tk 60 and Tk 65.
The demand of grams over the year is about 1.40 lakh tonnes, while it’s demand during the month of Ramzan alone is about 60 to 70 thousand tonnes. A total of 1.38 lakh tonnes of grams have been imported between January and April this year, clearly indicating that the storage is higher than the demand during Ramzan. However, the price is still increasing.
Sugar, another important item, has also witnessed a price increase of Tk 2 within a month.
As per estimates of the Essentials Monitoring Cell of the Bangladesh Tariff Commission, the annual demand of sugar in the country is 14 lakh tonnes and the government has imported 14.80 lakh tonnes of sugar.
Besides the storage of 1.50 lakh tonnes of the essential sweetener at the sugar corporation, the price of sugar in the international market is also decreasing. While the price of refined sugar in the international market has decreased by 51 per cent in the last one year, unrefined sugar too has seen a price downtrend of about 29 per cent during the same period.
Bucking the international trend, price in the local market, as per TCB estimates, shows an increase of 2.50 per cent within a month. The current price of one kilogram of sugar in the market is between Tk 42 and Tk 44.
Another key ingredient of daily essentials is lentils (daal), which has seen a price increase of 2.44 per cent over the last one month, according to the TCB. The current price of one kilogram lentils is between Tk 90 and Tk 120 against Tk 85 – Tk 120 a month ago. The price of lentils (local) has also gone up by 7.14 per cent. Currently, one kilogram of lentils (local) is sold at Tk 110 to Tk 120.
“The import of daal has declined due to the earthquake in Nepal. Besides, the price of daal in international market is also high. So, the price of daal is high in the local market,” said Shafi Mahmud, President of the Daal Business Association.
Meanwhile, the price of per kilogram of potatoes has also increased by 5.56 per cent, according to the TCB. The current price of a kilogram of potato in the market ranges between Tk 22 and Tk 24 as against Tk 16-Tk 20 last month.
Stability in the price of edible oil should offer some relief to the people. The price of edible oil has been stable in the last one month. The government has said that they have ample storage of edible oil. The government has imported about 16.5 lakh tonnes of edible oil against the demand of 14.5 lakh tonnes. Besides, 3.5 lakh tonnes of edible oil is produced locally.
The price of soyabean in the international market has slid by 28 per cent while palm oil prices have decreased by 21 per cent. Currently, one litre bottled Soyabean is being sold between Tk 95 and Tk 100, soyabean (loose) from Tk 80 to Tk 82 and palm oil (loose) between Tk 58 and Tk 60.
Although the price of onions, another important ingredient in daily essentials, have been stable over the last one month, the prevailing price of one kilogram of onion is 19.05 per cent higher than what it was a year ago. A kilogram of onion is currently being sold at a price between Tk 40 and Tk 45 depending on the quality. However, it was being sold for Tk 28-Tk 35 during the same time last year.
According to Billal Ahmed, an onion trader at Karwan Bazar, the price of onions will not increase as there is huge storage. Though onion and edible oil prices may offer some respite, the prices of garlic and ginger continue to soar tremendously if compared to the price last month.
One kilogram of garlic is currently being sold for Tk 100-Tk 110 against Tk 80 to Tk 100 last month, registering an increase of 6.67 per cent. On the other hand, one kilogram of ginger is sold at a price between Tk 100 and Tk 140 as compared to Tk 80 to Tk 100 last month, which is an increase of 9.09 per cent in the last one month.
The price of rice, however, is still stable. As per TCB estimates, price of fine rice has seen a decrease of 6.25 per cent that of coarse rice has declined by 8.57 over the last one year. The price of flour (Atta) has witnessed a decrease of 7.25 per cent, while flour (Moyda) has also gone down by 5.43 per cent in the last one year.
Nazirshail/miniket is being sold for a price between Tk 38 and Tk 52 per kilogram and coarse rice Swarna/IRRI is sold for Tk 30-Tk.34. Atta (loose) costs between Tk. 28 and Tk. 32, packed Atta is going at a price between Tk 34 and Tk 36.
Price of meats is also seeing a constant increase in the market. One kilogram of beef is being sold at a price between Tk 380 and Tk 400 as compared to a price range of Tk 340 and Tk 370 a month ago. The price of chicken (broiler) per kilogram is between Tk 165 and Tk 170 against a price range of Tk 140 to Tk. 155 last month.
Shortage of supply has led to a spurt in the price of chicken (broiler) and the increase in price may increase further during the Ramazan, a chicken-seller said.
While Rui fish is being sold for a price between Tk 250 and Tk 300 per kilogram against Tk 200-Tk.300 last month, Hilsha fish is being sold for a price between Tk. 1,000 and Tk. 1,500 per kilogram as compared to Tk. 700-Tk.1,000 last month. The price of a dozen eggs (farm) is from Tk.90 to Tk.95
The prices of puffed rice, molasses and beaten rice have also witnessed a slight increase ahead of Ramazan. Though price of most vegetables is stable for now, items like bitter gourd and brinjal have increased by Tk. 5 to Tk. 7.
The price of daily essentials increases ahead of the Ramazan because of the syndicate that stockpiles different items like grams and lentils, people alleged.