The cost of living in Dhaka rose by 8.44% on average last year, which was higher compared to the year before, according to a report by the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB).
CAB President Ghulam Rahman unveiled the report titled “Annual Inflation of 2017” at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity on Tuesday.
The consumer rights body prepared the report by collecting price data from 15 kitchen markets, 114 food items, costs of 14 services including gas, electricity and water and 22 daily used products.
It shows that the cost of services increased by 7.17% in 2017, compared to 5.81% in 2016.
The living cost had increased by 6.47% in 2016.
Food price, particularly of rice, soared in 2017 compared to the previous year. Price of all types of rice soared by 20.4% last year.
Also, the price of local and imported onions, vegetables and milk rose between 2016 and 2017.
Between 2016 and 2017, the prices of onion increased extraordinarily, the report says, adding that the price of locally produced onion rose by 40.99% while those imported saw a hike of 57.54%.
Vegetable prices also increased by 24.28% while the price of liquid milk rose by 20.36%.
Gas price for a two-burner stove rose by 23.08%, electricity price in residential areas by 6.44%, price of Wasa-supplied water by 5%, the report says, adding that house rents saw an average hike of 8.14% in the year.
However, costs of education and health and transport services were not included in the report.
Rahman in his speech said the cost of living for low-income people in Dhaka increased by 30-33% in 2017, compared to a year ago.
“The hike in rice prices affected some 120 million people across the country, resulting in a reduction in their living standards,” he said.
Even though the country is making rapid progress in all sectors, the standard of living of low-income people did not improve as such due to the hike in prices of staples and services, he added.
Rahman recommended designating 12 to 15 products as essential items and taking measures to keep their prices within the people’s purchasing capacity.
CAB energy advisor Dr M Shamsul Alam said: “Incomes of a very few people increased, but expenditures rose for all. Despite low-income people being the worst affected, we have yet not seen the government take action to put a price cap on the basic commodities.”
The organisation put forward a set of suggestions to the government, including setting up a division under the Commerce Ministry or a separate ministry to monitor the supply and prices of products, amending the existing House Rent Law 1991, and setting up a house rent commission.