Dhaka–With the advent of Ramadan, the religious month of fasting for the Muslim community, the common people of Bangladesh, a Muslim majority country have been hit hard by the price spiral of the essential commodities.
Apart from daily essentials, demand of certain commodities like, edible oil, onion, meat, fish, pulses, sugar, fruits and some vegetables go high during the Ramadan as the people prefer those items in the menu for “Iftar”, the time of breaking fasting at the end of the day, and “Sehri”, the early morning meal.
Consumers blame the unscrupulous traders for the price manipulation while the traders blame the government for lack of market monitoring and surveillance against the whole-sale market manipulators.
The opposition political critics , however, accuse the government for unholy alliance with the traders’ syndicate including the importers, hoarders and whole-sale market manipulators.
According to government monitoring body, Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, the prices of various essential items have gone up by 10-80 per cent from last year’s Ramadan price to this year’s.
Meanwhile, the head of Bangladesh Tariff Commission(BTC) alleged Tuesday that the commodity traders are targetting windfall profits during the Ramadan.
Mozibur Rahman, the commission’s chairman, said “In many cases, traders make 100 per cent profits. It’s totally unacceptable and unprecedented,” he said.
The BTC Chairman said that traders have been charging Tk 75 for per kilogram of ginger in the retail market against the landed cost of the item at the port at Tk 37, while per kg onion is being sold at Tk 40 against its importing cost of Tk 14.
“Same thing is happening with dates, pulse and other products. So such malpractices should be stopped immediately as it severely hurts both lower and middle income groups,” the commission chief said.
He said that many people have already stored huge amount of key essential items considering unprecedented profits during Ramadan.
Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad, a partner of the ruling alliance, said Saturday that people of Bangladesh are cheated in Ramadan as the businessmen have lost their humanitarian quality.
The former president of the country came up with the observation while addressing an Iftar session organized by the party in the city on the first day of holy Ramadan.
Ershad, who is the ender brother of Commerce Minister GM Quader, urged the government to take stern action against the ‘perpetrators’ who are involved in price hiking.
Blaming a ruling party-backed syndicate for pushing up the prices of essentials, opposition BNP on Saturday claimed that the government has established a reign of corruption in the country.
“The government-patronised businessmen are knocking up the prices of essentials as the government has created a reign of corruption across the country by forming the vicious syndicate,” BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said.
The market situation
On Friday, just a day ahead of Ramzan, the price of onion, lentil, potato, salt and some vegetables have been found selling at a higher price in the retail and wholesale markets. In the city’s kitchen markets, soyabean edible oil was sold at a price of Tk 135 per litre on Friday, which was sold at Tk 130 last week. .Shopkeepers said the reason was low supply of branded soyabean oil in both retail and kitchen markets in the last couple of days. The businessmen are trying to create artificial crisis of soyabean oil in the markets just ahead of Ramadan.
The price of other essential items has also increased significantly.
Lentil sold at Tk110 last week has been sold at Tk115 on Friday. Onion sold at Tk 32 last week was sold at Tk 34-36 per kg on Friday. Potato sold at Tk 24 last week was sold at Tk 26 on Friday. The price of packet-salt has increased by Tk 3-5 per kg. Sugar was retailed at Tk 55 per kg on Friday as per the government fixed rate.
On the other hand, brinjals were sold at Tk 50 per kg, while it was sold at Tk 40 per kg last week. Green chillies were sold at Tk 80 per kg on Friday while it was sold at Tk 60 per kg last week. Tomatoes were sold at Tk 110 per kg on Friday while it was sold at Tk 80 per kg last week. Beef was being sold for Tk 280 per kg, while mutton was retailed at Tk 450 a kg. The broiler chicken was retailed at Tk 165 per kg on Friday while it was sold at Tk 175 per kg last week. ( Bangladesh currency rate : 1 US $ = 82 taka)
Admitting some lapses, Commerce Minister GM Quader on Wednesday said the government will strongly monitor the market to keep the prices of essentials at ‘justifiable’ level during Ramadan.
He called upon the traders not to raise the prices of basic commodities illogically and sought their cooperation in keeping the market stable.
Speaking as the chief guest, GM Quader said this time the consumers have started buying Ramadan essentials much before, creating a supply crisis in the market and causing a bit of price hike.
He said the government has already instructed all the DCs to monitor the market on a regular basis so that the consumers do not suffer due to unjustified price hike of essentials.
Director of Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) Ramzan said they will appoint 2000-plus additional dealers soon across the country to distribute the five subsidised products.
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