Unscrupulous wholesale or retail traders who tried to capitalize on the situation and raise prices were often fined
Prices of essential commodities at kitchen markets in the capital fell due to strong monitoring by law enforcement agencies and government measures to protect consumer rights.
Traders said prices initially went up on the first day of Ramadan due to a surge in consumer demand. However, the prices gradually went down with strict price monitoring by the authorities. Unscrupulous wholesale or retail traders who tried to capitalize on the situation and raise prices, were often fined.
According to the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP), they fined 1,098 companies and individuals Tk35.55 lakh between April 24 and April 30 for price gouging, said DNCRP Deputy Director Masum Arefin.
Talking to several people including government officials, retailers, and consumers, this Dhaka Tribune correspondent found that with monitoring, prices of most essential items fell by Tk5-30 per kilogram, including rice, onion, ginger, lentils, potato, and garlic.
Onion prices decreased by Tk20 per kg, selling in wholesale markets at Tk36-40 per kg and Tk45-55 per kg in retail. Three days ago onion wholesale and retail prices were Tk56-60 per kg and Tk65-75 per kg respectively.
According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), prices of at least 10 items went down, including for fine lentils, imported garlic, retail edible oil, dates, palm oil, local garlic, coarse rice, and fine grain rice.
Of these, the price of imported ginger went down the most, by Tk150-200 per kg. Local ginger sold for Tk130-150 per kg, while the imported variety sold for Tk170-180 per kg, both in retail yesterday, down from Tk280-350 per kg and Tk350-380 per kg respectively, last week.
Rasel Ahmed, a retailer at Rampura Bazar, said: “Though the supply of onion is more than sufficient, its price rose by Tk20 a kg in wholesale markets last week due to Ramadan. But now prices have come down due to low customer turnout.”
Ridoy Ahmed, a wholesaler at Karwanbazar, said frequent drives by mobile courts also helped prices to fall.
At least 10 traders were fined Tk2 lakh in the last three days here, for manipulating the price of onions. Others took notice and did not raise prices, he added.
The price of rice, both fine and coarse, fell by Tk2-8 per kg in both retail and wholesale markets, as traders said new supplies of rice had hit the markets.
Vegetable prices also fall
Prices of several vegetables went down yesterday by Tk5-30 compared to last week.
Aubergine, a staple vegetable in Ramadan, sold in retail markets at Tk40-50 per kg, which was Tk60-70 a kg last week.
Cucumber sold for Tk30-45 per kg, carrots Tk30-40 a kg, tomato Tk20 a kg (which was Tk40-50 a kg earlier), lemon Tk20-40 for four, papaya Tk30-40 apiece, bitter gourd Tk30-40 a kg, and green chili for Tk50-70 a kg on Saturday.
Aminur Rasel, from Rampura, said: “With the beginning of Ramadan, magistrates fined a lot of traders overcharging for essential commodities. If these drives continue, it would make Ramadan more manageable for us.”