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Dhaka Tribune

Soaring prices overshadow Eid festivities of middle-, low-income families

The inflation rate jumped to 7.42% in May this year which was 5.26% in the same month in 2021

Update : 07 Jul 2022, 07:20 PM

Soaring inflation and higher price of commodities are forcing many middle and lower-income families to cut their expenses on the Eid-ul-Azha festival.

According to market observers, a good number of middle-class families are unlikely to buy sacrificial animals for Qurbani this year as they can't afford the cost.  

Cattle Market in Dhaka  Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Talking to UNB, Harun-Ur-Rashid, who works at a private company and lives in Dhaka's Modhubag, said that he can't join Qurbani even on share as his monthly income fails to keep pace with rising expenses. 

His monthly salary is TK64,000. After paying for house rent, children's education, medicines and treatment of ailing parents he falls short of Tk10,000 to Tk15,000 every month. 

The deficit, which he meets with loans from relatives and friends, has been occurring for the last six months. He blames his woes on the runaway inflation that has pushed up his cost of living.

Sheuly Begum, who earns Tk30,00 a month as a school teacher in the capital, finds it difficult to survive after paying for the daily necessities, her son’s university tuition fee, treatment and medicines for her mother-in-law. 

Money earned from a fixed deposit she had opened with her late husband's pension fund comes to her rescue even though the interest rate has been declining in recent years.

"It has been tough to run the family in a decent manner," she said. 

Harun and Sheuly both said their income has not increased, though the cost of living has jumped, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr AM Mirza Azizul Islam, former caretaker government's economic advisor, told UNB that growing inflation leading to price hikes has hit the middle class hard. But it is happening globally, not only in Bangladesh.

As prices of essentials skyrocket, people rush to the open market sale (OMS) run by TCB Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) truck to purchase goods at subsidised prices on Saturday, March 19, 2022 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

He suggested the government go for a stable exchange rate of the US dollar which is usually required for import payments. The rising cost of the dollar is pushing the import bill up and thus causing price hikes. 

Mirza Aziz suggested increasing the production of different essentials at home so the prices remain affordable for the common people. 

He also warned that the situation may worsen if the ongoing Russian-Ukraine war is prolonged.

SM Nazer Hossain, vice-president of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (ACB) said the government should provide subsidies on some commodities so that fixed-income people can buy those products.

He said due to a lack of market monitoring by the relevant authorities, the businesses are making hefty profits on some products by passing the burden on common people.

He said consumers did not get the benefits even when the prices of edible oil, wheat, rice, onion and other spices started declining, and NBR withdrew VAT and import duty on some essential goods, Nazer said.

The annual inflation rate in Bangladesh edged higher to 6.22% in March this year from 6.17% in the previous month. It was the highest inflation rate since October of 2020, driven by prices of food items (6.34% vs 6.22% in February).

The inflation rate jumped to 7.42% in May this year which was 5.26% in the same month in 2021.

Dr Fahmida Khatun, executive director of CPD, said:  “The average cost of living on a ‘regular’ diet for one household of four people living in an apartment with one bedroom outside the city center in Dhaka in May 2022 would be approximately Tk42,548. The average cost of living on a compromised diet for one household of four people living in an apartment with one bedroom outside of the city center in Dhaka in May 2022 would be approximately Tk29,206.”

For those families who are living in the city center with a one-bedroom apartment on a regular diet, the cost of living per month is Tk47,182, she added.

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