The prices of essential commodities, such as rice, flour, and mung dal, have once again surged in the capital city due to a combination of factors, including blockades and hartals.
Traders attribute the rise in commodity prices to reduced supply, increasing transport costs, and the ongoing political turmoil and dollar crunch.
During visits to shops at Karwan Bazar and Kalyanpur kitchen markets in the capital city on Friday, The Business Standard saw a substantial increase in the prices of flour and mung dal over the past month. Flour prices have soared by at least Tk5 per kg, and mung dal has witnessed a staggering rise of Tk20 per kg.
Mohammad Ali Hussain, a salesman at Yasin General Store, shared that the price of a two kg packet of flour has jumped from Tk110 to Tk120 in just one month. Similarly, BR 28 rice has seen an increase of Tk5 per kg, reaching Tk55 per kg. Some shops now offer two-kilogram packets of flour at Tk130, sparking concerns of a potential further increase.
Besides, Mohammad Billal Hossain of M/s Haji and Sons said the price of a 50 kg sack of loose flour has surged from Tk1,850-1,900 to Tk2,200 in the past month.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Moin, the manager of M/s Nurul Islam and Brothers, reported a Tk20 per kg increase in moong dal prices, ranging from Tk112-132 per kg.
According to the market price list of the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the price of flour has increased in the last month. This shows that the price of flour has been steadily rising over the past few weeks.
Atiquzzaman Sony, president of the Benapole Transport Owners Association, highlighted transportation challenges. He cited a sharp increase in truck fares from Tk17,000-18,000 to Tk25,000-26,000 for each truck transporting goods from Benapole to Dhaka and other locations in the country.
Despite the higher fares, empty trucks are scarce, making the transportation of goods from Benapole Land Port increasingly difficult.
In addition to the surge in commodity prices, packaged sugar is becoming increasingly scarce in the market. Stores that do have it available are selling it at a steep price of Tk150 per kg.
Shop owners expressed frustration with discrepancies between printed and market prices for sugar, leading many sellers to resort to unpacking and selling sugar at Tk150 per kg.
Mohammad Ferdous, a seller at Howladar Rice Agency in Kalyanpur, said "Despite a packet of one kg sugar having a Tk134 price tag, we are forced to purchase it from wholesalers at Tk148."
"When we try to sell at higher prices, the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection fined us, resulting in halting the sale of sugar," he explained.
Biswajit Saha, director of corporate and regulatory affairs of City Group, said the existing sugar has not benefited from the withdrawal. The impact of duty withdrawal on sugar will take time to reflect in the market.
Winter vegetable prices drop
As winter vegetables flood the market, the prices of various vegetables have begun to decrease. In Kalyanpur, beans are now priced at Tk50, medium-sized cauliflower at Tk40, ladies' fingers at Tk60, and pointed guard at Tk50.
In the Karwan Bazar, both beans and radishes are being retailed at Tk35 per kg, reflecting a notable decrease of Tk20-25 per kg within the past month, according to traders.
Despite the commerce ministry's efforts to control prices by setting maximum retail prices for essential items such as potatoes, eggs, and onions, some challenges persist. An egg is sold for Tk12, potatoes for Tk35-36 per kg, and local onions for Tk64-65 per kg.
However, more than two months later, potatoes and onions continue to be sold above the stipulated prices.
Potatoes are now being sold at Tk50 per kg, and local onions are priced at Tk110-120 per kg.
Additionally, a dozen eggs are being retailed at Tk120 in Karwan Bazar and Tk135 in Moghbazar and Kalyanpur street shops.