The commodity price rally, largely driven by the fuel price hike, continued last week with a sharp rise in prices of different essential items, further squeezing the purchasing capacity of limited-income people.
The wholesale prices of pulses in Khatunganj went up by Tk110-200 per maund (37.32 kilograms) over the last week, which translated into a Tk5 rise per kg at retail markets.
Khatunganj traders said even though the demand for pulses is stable, the prices have been increasing due to price manipulation by importers.
Besides, prices of other consumer products, such as oil, flour, sugar and pulses, shot up by Tk5-10 per kilogram in the last week, intensifying the suffering of the limited-income people.
On Thursday in Khatunganj, Canadian and Australian lentils were sold at Tk3,100 per maund, which was Tk2,985 a week ago. Besides, prices of white peas increased by Tk150 and imported grams by Tk200 to Tk1,530 and Tk2,400 respectively.
Wholesale pulse traders said the demand for pulses in the market is normal and there is also an ample supply of products. Even then, some importers have manipulated and raised the prices on the pretext of booking price rise in the international market.
Wholesale trader Azizul Haque said the booking price of moshur lentil has gone up in the last week in the international market but prices of other pulses are stable. Besides, the lentils that are being sold in the market were bought at least one to two months ago. Lentils brought with higher booking prices will reach the market after 1.5 months.
However, pulses importer Ashutosh Mahajan claimed the booking price of all pulses has increased in the international market. In addition, the value of the dollar and ship fares have increased.
SM Mohiuddin, general secretary of the Chattogram Pulses Traders Association, said the market is a hostage to some importers because they raise or lower prices whenever they want. There is a need for market monitoring by the administration to control the market.
Prices of daily necessities not falling
Five-litre edible oil containers of different brands were sold at Tk760 in the capital's Moghbazar, which was Tk710 last week. Besides, a 2-kg packet of flour increased by Tk5 to Tk75, unpackaged sugar by Tk5 to Tk75 and small grain lentils by Tk10 to Tk120 per kg.
The price of sugar was fixed at a maximum retail price of Tk75 per kg by the Bangladesh Sugar Refiners Association in September but it is being sold at Tk85 to Tk110.
Apart from daily essentials, prices of the most popular source of protein, chicken and chicken eggs, have also gone up. A week ago, broiler chicken was Tk170 per kg but at present it is Tk175-180. Broiler chickens were sold at Tk120-130 in September. Farm chicken eggs have gone up by Tk5 to Tk115-120.
Jahangir Kabir, a private employee, said, "Salaries are not rising the way prices is rising. I am struggling to meet the education expenses of my children and the needs of the family. The government needs to take steps to control the market immediately."
In the capital Karwan Bazar, a consumer Md Khorsed Alam told TBS, "I have bought carrots at Tk100 per kg. A pumpkin that was Tk40 nine days ago is Tk70 now. Apart from these, unpackaged edible oil is being sold at Tk152 per litre which was Tk70 two months ago."
"I need Tk25,00 to run my 10-member family but at present, I spend Tk35,000. As my salary has not increased, I have no other way but to borrow money to run my family," he added.
In Dhaka's Kathal Bagan, Karwan Bazar, Nayatola Bou Bazar market, beans were sold at Tk80, green chillies at Tk100, long eggplants at Tk60, round eggplants at Tk70, tomatoes at Tk140, cauliflower at Tk40-50 per piece and potatoes at Tk25 per kg on Friday.
Consumer Association of Bangladesh President Ghulam Rahman said there might be no relief until winter vegetables are fully available in the market. The government needs to improve the supply chain in the market to keep the prices of essential commodities stable. If the price rises in the international market, it can take action through tax adjustment or import at the government level. We have been urging the government regarding this but the government is not taking effective steps.