Onions and potatoes will be available at lower prices in the country by mid-December, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said today.
"When inflation increases, it is not possible for the commerce ministry to control commodity prices. Our inflation is over 9.5%. Prices will come down by mid-December as overall inflation comes down and new onions and potatoes hit the market," he said after a meeting of the National Tariff Policy Monitoring and Review Committee at the secretariat on Wednesday (8 November).
Following the meeting, journalists asked the minister what he would say if the voters asked him about the price of goods during the election.
In reply, Tipu Munshi said, "The people of my area are not suffering. Mine is an agriculture-based area. However, there are many issues in Dhaka. When I ran for election in 2001, there were 10 motorcycles in my area, now there are thousands of motorcycles. Because they are getting good prices for potatoes. They have no problem."
"They are getting the price of potatoes. They have no problem. Women apply lipstick three times, change sandals four times," he added.
However, the situation is not the same all over the country, the minister said.
"But the situation across the country is different. I understand that the city's day laborers, low-income people are suffering a lot," he added.
The commerce minister did not want to comment on whether the commodity prices will have any effect on the Awami League in the upcoming elections.
The price of onion has jumped by Tk30 to reach Tk140 per kg this week - more than double the price set by the government.
Amid an uncontrollable price hike of daily necessities, the government set the price of onion at Tk64-65 per kg, potato at Tk35-36 per kg and eggs at Tk12 apiece on 14 September.
However, potatoes and onions were still being sold at twice the set price.
According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, domestic onion was priced at Tk52-65 at this time a year ago, which has increased by 122% to Tk125-135.
Besides, potato prices jumped by 109% to Tk55-60 from Tk25-30 per kg last year.