Many eat once a day
Farhad Chowdhury: The suffering of the low-income people can be felt even if you look at the report prepared by the government organization-Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) on the prices of daily necessities. According to TCB data, the price of coarse rice has increased by 2 percent and the price of open flour has increased by 24 percent in a year. The price of palm oil has increased by 2 percent, potato by 38 percent and anchor dal by 11 and a half percent. As a result, many of the people have to eat once a day.
Ariful Islam works in a private company for a monthly salary of Tk 30,000. With this salary, he has to run a family of three in the capital. House rent is about Tk 12,500 per month including gas, electricity, water bills. Son’s school fee is Tk 1,750. For the family, rice, pulses, vegetables, oil, soap, as well as various daily necessities are bought and the remaining money is used to meet the daily travel expenses.
Ariful said that a family of three needs Tk 1,800 to Tk 1,900 for rice every month. The fare for commuting to the office is around Tk 1500. A child’s tiffin cost is Tk 1,000 per month. Besides, it takes Tk 2,000 per month to buy milk, eggs and other food for the child. Washing powder, body soap, shampoo, hair oil, paste cost another Tk 1500. After these mostly fixed expenses, only Tk 8,000 remain for other expenses including buying fish, meat, vegetables, pulses and cooking oil.
He said, the price of everything in the market, it takes Tk 4,000 per month to buy vegetables. How can I buy fish, meat, cooking oil, onion, garlic, turmeric and other products for the whole month with the remaining Tk 4,000? Apart from this, every month there are some other expenses. As a result, I cannot meet the household expenses with limited income. I don’t drink, cigarettes, tea anything. But at the end of the month there is no money in hand. Sometimes even borrowing from colleagues.
This employee of a private organization also said that the prices of various things are constantly increasing. At the same time, our expenses are increasing. But the income is not increasing. I do a fixed salary job. No additional income. Every month, after receiving the salary money, I separate the money for the specified expenditure sectors. However, income and expenditure do not match. Sometimes the son and wife are eager to go out, but most of the time I can’t fulfill their earnestness. Sometimes there is turmoil in the family. I can’t explain to my family how hard I go. I am constantly under great stress.
Not only Ariful Islam, many of the residents of the capital are struggling to balance the accounts of the family in the market of higher prices of daily commodities. They have no savings at the end of the month despite spending a lot of money. Some have cut back on shopping and eating out to curb spending. Even so, there is no relief in the accounts of the family. In the last one week, the Jago News reporter spoke to 50 people who are low or limited salary private employees, garment workers, rickshaw drivers, vegetable and fruit sellers in the capital and brought out the tension in their lives.
Among them, at least 10 people who earn Tk 20-30 thousand monthly by working in private companies said that they have reduced the amount of shopping and eating. Garment workers and rickshaw drivers also said the same. They say that most of the garment workers and rickshaw drivers said that they can eat meat for a maximum of two days in a month. Fish is also not eaten regularly. Most of the time the day is spent eating daland rice.
However, the prices of onions, garlic, ginger, various spices, sugar, salt, milk, eggs, fish and meat have increased at a higher rate. During the year, the price of onion increased by 47 percent, garlic by 221 percent, dry chili by 48 percent, turmeric by 4 percent, ginger by 188 percent, cumin by 170 percent and clove by 44 percent.
In addition, during the year, raw fish increased by 33 percent, beef by 15 percent, broiler chicken by 6 percent, depending on the company, the price of milk powder increased by 9 to 17 percent, sugar by 70 percent, salt by 18 percent and egg prices increased by 20 percent. This picture of rising product prices has emerged in the TCB report.
Meanwhile, according to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) data, the average price inflation in the recently concluded fiscal year 2022-23 stood at 9.02 percent. Which is highest in last 12 years. An increase in inflation means an increase in spending at that rate. In other words, 9.01 percent inflation in a year means that a year ago, a service or product that one used to buy for Tk 100, now costs Tk 109.01 for that service or product.
According to BBS data, inflation stood at 9.74 percent last June. In the previous month of May, inflation was 9.94 percent. And in April it was 9.24 percent and in March it was 9.33 percent. That is, inflation has been above 9 percent for four consecutive months.
Rickshaw driver Faiz Ali lives with his wife and two children in a rented house in Madhubagh of the capital. He told Daily Industry that he earns Tk 700-800 every day by driving a rickshaw excluding expenses. House rent is Tk 9,000. Rice is Tk 3000 per month. Half of the income is spent on house rent and rice. Other expenses are to be met with the remaining money.
He said, we don’t eat much fish and meat. Buy broiler chickens 1-2 days a month. Fish is very expensive. If you buy fish for Tk 500, it will not last more than two days. I stopped eating beef a long time ago. There is no way to eat rice with vegetables. No vegetable is available in the market for less than Tk 50-60. We are very distressed by the price of things. Many times, I pass by just eating a bread with water in the afternoon.
Rita Akhtar works in a garment factory in Rampura. He said, I get a monthly salary of Tk 10,000. Think about how to go with this money. Four of us live in one house. House rent is Tk 1500 per month. There is a mother in the village. Tk 2,000 per month should be sent for the mother. Now it costs Tk 100 to buy a pod of raw chili. Fish, oil, vegetables are also very expensive. In some months no meat is eaten. Somehow, I am passing the day by eating dal-bharta-rice. This is how our day goes.
Md. Naseem of Jatrabari worked in an organization in Motijheel. He said that he has to run the family very hard with the monthly salary. In the past few months, prices of various commodities have increased at an unusual rate. Prices of everything from rice, pulses, oil, sugar, soap, shampoo, washing powder have gone up. A kg of tomato is being sold at Tk 400. The price of other vegetables is also very high. Tk 350-400 per kg of fish. I can’t control my spending. Borrowed money from a colleague in June. Had to borrow some money this month too. I can’t keep up with the expenses with the salary I get.
Ariful Islam, who works in an insurance company in Motijheel, told Daily Industry that if you go to the market with Tk 500, the market will not last more than two days. Rice, flour, oil, sugar everything is abnormally expensive. I don’t see any sign of the price going down. Rather, sometimes the prices of various products are increasing abnormally. People like us who work on low wages are in a lot of trouble these days. Cost can’t be reduced even by reducing the amount of food consumed.
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