Prices of corrugated iron (CI) sheets, widely known as tin sheets, rose more than 40% in the country's market in just three months with the beginning of the peak season for house and other establishment constructions.
The price increase has occurred particularly in rural areas, amid the reopening of the economy after Covid-induced fallouts.
Manufacturers have blamed the "volatile global market" of the raw materials and increased freight charges for the unusual price hike of the essential construction item. However, it is noteworthy that raw material prices in the international market went down recently, but manufacturers are yet to bring down prices.
Visiting different CI sheet producing factories in the port city Chattogarm recently, The Business Standard found that a tonne of 42mm prime quality (175 pieces) CI sheets was selling at Tk1,14,000, up by Tk34,000 or 42.5% from Tk80,000 in October.
Besides, prices of 32mm prime quality sheets jumped to Tk1,12,000 per tonne (224 pieces) this week from Tk78,000 in October, with its colour variant rising to Tk1,24,000 from Tk95,000, while the price of a tonne of 25mm prime tin sheets (282 pieces) increased to Tk56,000 from Tk39,000.
Manufacturers are now selling a tonne of BRO-class CI sheets at TK1,10,000, which was only TK93,000 three months ago, B-class sheets at Tk1,00,000, and C-class sheets at Tk85,000. A tonne of B-class tin sold at TK84,000, and C-class at Tk75,000 in October.
Traders offer the explanation that the CI sheet market usually sees a surge in demand and subsequently in prices between October and March every year, thanks to heightened construction activities related to homes and other establishments amid the favourable weather.
"Over the last three months, manufacturers raised the prices of CI sheets abnormally on the excuse of raw material prices having gone up. Despite a recent fall in raw material prices, the manufacturers did not slash their prices," said Mohammad Younus, proprietor of Ms Yunus Traders at Asadganj in Chattogram.
"As several companies hold the lion's share of the CI sheets market, they determine the prices by themselves," he told The Business Standard.
An official of a manufacturing company, seeking anonymity, told TBS that the prices of raw materials for corrugated iron sheets increased by 20% in foreign markets last year. Besides, freight charges also rose four times, which was why the companies were forced to raise prices.
Tareque Ahmed, director (operations) at TK group, informed this correspondent that the group bought CI sheet coil (a raw material) at $1,100 per tonne on the international market, up from $1,070.
"The price has now declined to $860-890 a tonne. However, the coil, having been booked, now is expected to reach the country in March or April," he told TBS.
Among more than a dozen manufacturers, PHP, KDS, S Alam, Abul Khayer, NGS, TK and Chemon Ispat companies hold majority shares in the CI sheets market.