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Pre-Ramadan price hike worries city dwellers

Govt monitoring urged to keep prices stable   

Published : Sunday, 21 April, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 843

Prices of essentials in the city's kitchen markets have heated up on the eve of the Shab-e-Barat and with the fasting month of Ramadan only two weeks away. Over the last few days prices of potato, onion, sugar, lentils and gram soared despite government's claim that the market has sufficient supply of the items.  
The rising prices of these items added to high prices of vegetables, fish and meat already worrying consumers for the last one month. The only noticeable down trend is in the prices of eggs.
Anisul Islam, a government employee, told the Daily Observer at Hatirpool kitchen market that  prices of most essentials have already started to hike before the Shab-e-Barat. Vendors in city markets are increasing prices holding the buyers hostage.  
"Looking from a distance of one week to 10 days, the price difference stands between Tk 4 to Tk 5 per kg of any goods and it may continue to increase by big difference until the first two weeks of the  holy month of Ramadan. The market is going beyond common people's reach." Anisul said.
The open market sale operation (OMS) in city streets that TCB may start soon before Ramadan is just an eye wash; the market manipulation is already at work, he added.    
While visiting several kitchen markets in the capital on Saturday this correspondent found traders selling local onion at Tk 120 per 5 kg compared to Tk 100 a week ago at retail level. They are selling potato at Tk 90 per 5 kg compared to Tk 70 a week ago.
Small vendors are demanding Tk 20 per kg potato at the retail end. They demand Tk 25 to Tk 30 for per kg onion selling in smaller quantity.   
Akram Hossain, a wholesaler in Karwan Bazar, said prices of Indian onion in the market has increased as India has increased export prices. But supply of domestic onion is sufficient. Buyers say, the problem is an artificial rise in prices.  
An employee at a private business house said, "I bought brinjal at Tk 35 per kg two week ago but it is being sold between Tk 60 to 70 per kg on Saturday." He said for low income people, the market is becoming quite unaffordable." He said he didn't know how to balance his limited budget and maintain his family.   
Most vendors blame vegetable supply shortfall in the market for sudden price hike although there is no visible reason for it like flood or disruption of transport carrying vegetables to the capital from outlaying districts. On Saturday cucumber sold in the city market from Tk 60 to Tk 70 per kg, beans at Tk 50 and above, lady's finder at Tk 50 to 60 per kg, ginger at Tk 90 and local garlic at Tk 60 per kg.
Buyers blame lack of market monitoring at a time when dishonest traders and business syndicates are out to make illegal fortune.   
Beef was selling at prices between Tk 500 and Tk 550 per kg on Saturday while mutton was selling at prices between Tk 750 to Tk 800. The city corporations' attempt to put a ceiling on prices of beef and mutton last year did not work. What they are going to do this time is not clear yet, said a buyer.  On the other hand a meat vendor said, "We cannot sell a kg of beef at less than Tk 550. Why we should face losses."
Fish prices this week also soared without any valid reason. Hilsa prices were almost unchanged but Chital fish sold at Tk 500 to Tk 550 per kg, Aire fish at Tk 650- Tk 700, Rui-Katla Tk 300-Tk 600 per kg, and tilapia between Tk 180 and Tk 200 per kg, Boal sold between Tk 500 to Tk 6000, Pangas at Tk 130 to Tk 200, Pabda fish at Tk 500 to Tk 600.
SM Nazer Hossain, Vice-President of the Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) told the Daily Observer, "Dishonest businessmen are making huge profits at the cost of buyers the market must be monitored."
He said the government should act to keep the market affordable to common people.

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