Home Bangladesh Consumers suffer as govt-set commodity prices still ignored
Bangladesh - September 24, 2023

Consumers suffer as govt-set commodity prices still ignored

Staff Correspondent: Traders – be it at the retail or wholesale level – are not selling potatoes and onions at the prices set by the government recently, continuing to add to the woes of customers, especially the low-income ones.
Instead, yesterday, the local variety of onions was selling for Tk90 a kg – a Tk5 increase in a week. The price of each kg of potato remained unchanged at Tk50. Eggs were available at up to Tk150 a dozen in most areas. However, the protein item was priced as low as Tk145 at some grocery stores, which is still Tk1 more than the fixed rate.
The prices of the three agricultural and poultry products were noticed at several kitchen markets and groceries in the capital on Fridday. In fact, the same prices were seen throughout last week. Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi at a press conference at the Secretariat on September 14 announced the government’s decision to fix prices of essential products. As per the government’s decision, the maximum retail price of onions was set at Tk64-65 per kg, potatoes at Tk35-36 per kg, bottled soybean oil at Tk169 per litre, loose soybean at Tk149 per litre and palm oil at Tk124 per litre. The Ministry of Commerce also fixed the price of one egg at Tk12 at the retail level.
The price of loose sugar was fixed at Tk120 per kg, while the packaged sugar was at Tk135 per kg. Wholesalers were charging Tk38-40 for each kg potato yesterday, while some retailers were selling it for as low as Tk45.
In many areas, retailers were selling onions at Tk80-90 depending on the local varieties. The Indian variety was selling for Tk60 at kitchen markets, Tk65 a kg at grocery shops and Tk70 at mobile vans.
Retailers’ take
Monir Hossain, a shopkeeper at Mirpur-1, said: “We’re selling eggs at Tk145 now. We’ll appreciate it if the government reduces the price to Tk140 or even Tk130.
“We won’t mind. Instead, customers will benefit from it.”
However, most egg sellers said they are charging Tk1 more due to the shortage of change.
Md Joni of Mollah General Store at Mirpur-2 said that they charge higher prices as they have to buy goods at an increased rate.
“If we can purchase our products at reasonable prices, there will be no problem for us in selling those at lower rates,” he said.
Additionally, an increased transportation cost propels the traders to charge extra, added Joni.
Street vender Bachchu Miah said: “It is true that the government has fixed prices for several commodities. But we can’t buy those at lower prices. So, how do we sell them cheaply?”
Customers in worry
Qamrul Ahsan Bhuiyan, a customer, said that they are forced to buy everything at previous prices.
“What is the outcome of the government setting prices? Traders are just careless about it,” he said.
When asked if he bought eggs, Qamrul said: “I stopped having eggs since the prices started to soar alarmingly.”
Lipon Ali, another customer, said that the people and the retailers are systematically victimized by “a syndicate of big players” in the market.
“The government should be strict on importers, hoarders and wholesalers,” Lipon opined.
What wholesalers say
As the retailers explained, wholesalers also blame an increased rate from suppliers for the higher prices.
“I bought potato from Munshiganj for Tk37 a kg and am selling at Tk38, whereas the government had set retail prices at Tk35-36 per kg. This clearly shows that the bulk purchase price is higher than the retail one,” said Mahbubur Rahman, a wholesaler.
“So, it is quite normal that we can’t sell at lower rates if the bulk purchase prices stay higher,” he said.
Echoing a similar sentiment, another wholesaler Md Azad Hossain said that he purchased potatoes at Tk40 a kg from Rajshahi, local variety of onions at Tk75, Indian onions at Tk54 and a hybrid variety of onions at Tk68.
Meanwhile, the government on September 18 allowed four firms to import 40 million eggs aiming at meeting the daily demand and bringing back stability in the market. On Thursday, the import of another 60 million eggs was permitted.

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