Low income and non-salaried Bangladeshis are finding it an uphill battle to pay for daily necessities as their prices have suddenly gone up overnight after the government on Monday approved a nearly 100 per cent salary increase for state employees and members of the armed forces.
Though they have not yet drawn their enhanced pay, it has started impacting markets, especially commodities traded in the kitchen markets in the capital and across the country.
Traders on Tuesday said the prices soared for reasons including the abnormal salary raises, loss of crops due to the continuing floods, supplementary duty imposed on import of sugar and India exporting onion at higher price.
The ordinary buyers (low income and non-salaried persons) are suffering badly from cumulative effect of all these developments, one businessman said.
Going round different kitchen markets in the capital on Tuesday, The Daily Observer correspondent found the commodities such as lady's finger, egg, bitter-gourd, pointed-gourd, pulse, green chili, edible oil, cucumber and other vegetables were all selling at higher prices.
"The prices will spiral further keeping pace with the rocketing salaries of the state employees and the armed forces," said a wholesale trader at the city's Kawranbazar market.
The government approved the new pay scale for its employees and the defense personnel on Monday. Monthly basic salary of those in the highest grade was increased by 95 per cent to Tk 78,000 (fixed) and in the lowest grade by 101 per cent to Tk 8,250. There are 20 grades.
Besides, the Cabinet Secretary or the Principal Secretary or those in equivalent posts will get Tk 86,000 (fixed) and a senior secretary Tk 82,000 (fixed).
In the new pay scale, a festival bonus for the Bangla New Year has been introduced but time scale and selection grade have been abolished. A new annual increment system has also been rolled out.
General Secretary of Moulvibazar Kitchen Market Samity in the capital Golam Moala said, "Price of daily essentials rose due to heavy rainfall causing floods in many parts of the country and increased salary for civil servants."
On Tuesday, average was selling at Tk 65-Tk 85 per kg, bitter gourd at Tk 68 kg, okra at Tk 80 kg, ribbed gourd at Tk 70 kg, string bean at Tk 65 kg, cucumber at Tk 70 kg, tomato at Tk 100 kg, papaya at Tk 45 kg and potato at Tk 30 kg.
The price of sugar increased as the government imposed supplementary duty on import of the item. The government of India on August 22 increased the minimum export price of onions to US$ 700 a tonne from US$ 425 to ensure domestic supply availability as production of the item was hampered there due to heavy rainfall.
The prices of both imported and local onions reached to Tk 90 a kg in Dhaka markets. Green chili sold at between Tk 320 and Tk350 per kg in the city.
Traders said the wholesalers were charging extra money on sugar, pushing prices of the item up in the retail market.
Sugar sold at Tk 42-Tk 45 a kg, egg at Tk 50 a hali (four pieces), red lentil at Tk 125-Tk 130 a kg while the imported lentil coarse variety) was selling at Tk 105 a kg.
Experts said the soaring prices and spiked salaries may fuel inflation.
House rent and transport fare will also go up - which will add to the burden of the common people who are already facing the crunch of increased gas and electricity rates.