Prices go haywireShakhawat Hossaion
Kitchen markets in the city seem to have gone haywire with the prices of a number of daily essentials hitting an all-time high increasing the sufferings of the fixed- and low-income groups, market operators said.
Prices of edible oil, flour, coarse flour, sugar, eggs, fuel oils, meat and fish marked a fresh hike over the last fortnight and surpassing the previous high in 2008, when many countries, including Bangladesh, grappled with steep price hike of foods and fuel oils.
Although the price of per barrel crude petroleum is still S$ 25 short of the all-time high of $147, recorded in June 2008 in the international market, and the price of wheat, rice and sugar have not surpassed their previous high in the international market, things are different in Bangladesh.
Per litre packed edible oil is selling at Tk 135, per kg flour at Tk 52, one piece of egg at Tk 9 and per kg sugar at 64 (packet) surpassing previous their high in the local market.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh general secretary Humayun Kabir told New Age that they were worried over the situation as it was eroding the purchasing power of the fixed- and low-income people.
According to the public data, one third of the country’s population still lives on $1.5 daily. Besides, fixed-income group is forced to draw on their savings to meet their daily kitchen market costs.
The CAB secretary general pointed out that a cartel was behind the unusual price hike of daily essentials on the pretext of price hikes in the international market.
‘We have already met commerce minister GM Quader and urged him to strengthen market monitoring,’ he said, adding that they did not see any effective measures anyway.
Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries president AK Azad said that monitoring would hardly make a positive impact on the market.
He pointed out that commercial banks were showing reluctance to foot the import bills of essential commodities due to severe shortage of foreign currencies.
‘This is the reason for price hikes,’ he said, adding that the government should increase the flow of foreign currency in the banking channel for uninterrupted import of essentials.
The FBCCI president denied cartels were behind the price hike of essentials saying that the situation was discouraging importers.
Sadiq Ahmed, vice-president of local think-tank
aid fluctuation of the local currency against major foreign currencies, including the US dollar, is a major reason for price hike of essential commodities.
Taka, the local currency, lost more than 12 per cent in the last six months against the greenback, which pushed up the price of sugar, wheat, edible oils and fuel oils.
Sadiq Ahmed, a former World Bank economist, criticised the Bangladesh Bank’s monetary policy saying that it had also influenced inflation.
The general average inflation in the first eight months of the fiscal is still above double digit mark. The present spate of price hike of essentials suggested that the inflation would not stay at a tolerable level.
comments powered by Disqus