The global market has cooled off, but there has been no impact in Bangladesh due to supply control by a few unscrupulous businesses, according to the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB).
It blamed the syndication resorted to by businesspeople for creating instability over one item after another, despite many countries successfully bringing down prices through various measures.
At a press conference on the subject, "Rising commodity prices and what to do", on Tuesday, CAB President Ghulam Rahman said central banks and finance ministries of various countries have implemented various steps in currency and financial management to safeguard consumers from "imported" inflation caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.
"Inflation in neighbouring India fell to 4.7% in April, the lowest since 2021. In May, Inflation fell to 6.1% in the euro zone, and in April, it dropped to 4.3% in Canada, 4.3% in Indonesia, 3.4% in Malaysia, and 5% in the United States," he noted in a written statement at the National Press Club.
However, Bangladesh has refrained from implementing all the measures that have been adopted around the world to curb inflation. Instead, repeated increases in electricity, gas, and fuel prices have contributed to inflationary pressures. In fiscal 2022–23, inflation reached 9.02%, the highest level in a decade, said the CAB president.
He said a review of market rates by the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) shows that many products have seen price increases much higher in the last year.
The CAB president also said that the impact of inflation on the lives of common people is not being properly reflected in its calculations by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
"The taka has fallen by more than 25% against the dollar. As a result, the price of imported goods in taka is increasing to a large extent. At the same time, the tax rate is also increasing, leading to a further rise in prices. In this context, consumers are being deprived of the benefit of price falls in the world market," he added.
In this situation, a few businesses are making extraordinary profits by controlling the supply of almost every commodity, he said.
Ghulam Rahman also claimed that the business syndicates are plundering thousands of crores of taka from the pockets of consumers by creating a supply crisis of daily essentials such as edible oil, sugar, onions, ginger, and green chillies.
He said commodity prices did not reach their current level in a day and it is not possible to control them immediately. Appropriate monetary and fiscal management is essential but may not be sufficient to control inflation.
The CAB chief said that due to a lack of competition in the market, these companies are making unusual profits by fixing the prices and supply of products.
He said many times non-tariff barriers in import control, such as the food ministry's approval for the import of rice and the agriculture ministry's permit for the import of agricultural products like onions, green chillies, etc, allow unscrupulous business syndicates to earn exorbitant profits.
"Again, since the Ministry of Commerce works for traders to create a business environment, they cannot fully protect consumer interests," he added.
CAB Energy Advisor Professor M Shamsul Alam said, "The Ministry of Commerce is providing opportunities for business. As a result, restrictions are being created to protect the interests of consumers."