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Dhaka Tribune

Traders now blame political unrest, strikes for price surge in essential commodities

  • Prices of rice, potato and onions increase
  • Traders say they will go out of business if prices not increased
Update : 30 Oct 2023, 08:49 PM

Amid political unrest and strikes, the market for daily commodities is once again experiencing turbulence. 

Traders have hiked the prices of essential goods, citing last Friday and Saturday's political activities as well as Sunday's strike as reasons for the surge. This increase is often attributed to various factors, including product shortages, transportation crises, and even dollar fluctuations, despite certain products not being heavily reliant on imports.

Traders are now attributing the spike in prices to the recent strike, connecting it to the ongoing political unrest. 

After visiting various kitchen markets in the capital, it was seen that the prices of rice and onions have increased inexplicably.

The government had attempted to fix prices for various commodities like rice, potatoes, eggs, and onions after discussions with traders. 

However, these prices have not been adhered to, with costs continuously rising. 

For instance, coarse BR 28 rice is now sold at Tk54 to Tk55 per kg compared to the previous Tk52-53. Other types of rice like miniket and Nazirshail are being sold at Tk 72-86 per kg. 

The cost of onions has skyrocketed to Tk110-130 per kg, significantly higher than the government-fixed price of Tk65. Similarly, the price of potatoes, set by the government at Tk36 per kg, has surged to Tk60 per kg.

Furthermore, the market is witnessing an increase in the cost of broiler chicken and other new products, coinciding with escalated prices for most vegetables and fish. 

Traders attribute the market instability to the strike, citing reduced product availability and transportation issues as primary causes for the price hikes. 

Additionally, they highlight the challenges in importing goods due to the ongoing conflicts between Russia and Ukraine, compounded by a dollar crisis and the reluctance of banks to open LC (Letter of Credit) due to a shortage of dollars, leading to increased import costs.

In response, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi refuted these claims, saying that the government had considered all factors when setting prices and accuses traders of profiteering. He mentioned the Department of Consumer Protection is addressing this issue. 

Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque also acknowledged the struggle in implementing price controls and points out the lack of cooperation from cold storage owners, hindering enforcement.

He emphasized the challenges in controlling the market for perishable goods like onions and vegetables due to increased production costs stemming from rising fuel prices and transportation expenses.

Hemayet Hossain, a retailer in Kawran Bazar, said that sustaining businesses at government-fixed prices is unfeasible, considering escalating transportation and labor costs, as well as enduring complexities with import-dependent products. 

"There's no sense in exerting pressure on us to lower prices. If the pressure continues, our only viable choice is to close down. Operating a business at a loss is simply unsustainable," he added.

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