Mahfuja Mukul: Unsettled buyers at the abnormal high prices of almost all products in the market. Along with daily commodities like ginger, garlic, spices, the prices of other consumer goods are running rampant. Traders are mainly blaming the dollar crisis and the problem of opening LCs. Meanwhile, the Russia-Ukraine war has added pressure. This year the import of the country’s products has also decreased at a significant rate. Traders feel that a major impact is falling on product prices.
Market analysts say that due to the decrease in product imports, the product price inflation has increased several times more than the normal crisis. Traders tend to unethically increase the prices of goods on the pretext of import crisis. Besides, there is the influence of syndicates.
According to the latest data of Bangladesh Bank, in the last fiscal year (2022-23), the country imported goods worth $6,950 million, which is about 16 percent less than the previous fiscal year. In that fiscal year (2021-22), the amount of import was $8,250 million. It is as money. Looking at the statistics in terms of quantity, according to the data of custom houses and customs stations, 13.31 crore tonnes of goods were imported in the fiscal year 2022-23. Whereas in 2021-22 fiscal year, 13.82 crore tonnes were imported. As such, the amount of imported products has decreased by 51 lakh tons or 3.71 percent in the space of one year.
Most of the goods imported in the country are through Chittagong port. In the fiscal year 2021-22, 9.21 metric tons of goods were imported through Chittagong port. The import value of these products is Tk 420 lakh crore.
In the fiscal year 2022-23, imports decreased by 3.86 percent. However, if the import is less, the expenditure should also be reduced. But on the contrary cost or import cost increased by 10.05 percent.
In the fiscal year 2022-23, the revenue of Chittagong Custom House was Tk 61,632.66 crores. In the fiscal year 2021-22, the revenue collected was Tk 59,159.83 crore. In the financial year 2022-23, the growth has been achieved at 4.18 percent.
According to Chittagong Custom House customs clearance data, 8.85 million metric tons of goods were imported in the fiscal year 2022-23. The import value of these products is Tk 462 lakh crore.
It is known that the import of industrial raw materials, luxury goods and consumer goods has decreased more last year. The businessmen of these three sectors have mentioned the rise in dollar value and the crisis as the main reason. In addition, imports decreased during several periods of the last financial year due to increased duty on luxury goods and non-essential goods, import controls and supervision over the opening of credit letters of over $3 million.
According to the market information, the price of food products has increased the most due to the import crisis. According to the data of Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, the price of imported sugar has increased by 51 percent in the last one year. During this time sugar from Tk 85 to Tk 90 became Tk 135 to Tk 140. Besides, the price of powdered milk in the market has increased by 17 percent, and the price of hot spices like coriander, cumin, and cloves has increased up to 51 percent.
Besides, the price of ginger-garlic has increased to a record amount. The price of ginger is about 350 percent higher and the price of garlic is 87 percent higher. These daily essential products, which were sold in the range of Tk 100, are now Tk 300 to Tk 400 per kg.
Again, due to low import of raw materials, the effect of price increase in the market was rod and steel products. According to the data, in the last one year, the price of each ton of rod has increased to about Tk 25 thousand and exceeded Tk one lakh. The same is the case with writing paper. The price of writing paper has increased by 44 percent in the last one year.
Besides, in the last one year, traders have reported the import crisis as the reason for the increase in the prices of animal food industry raw materials, food processing industry raw materials, liquefied natural gas, diesel and furnace oil, plastic products and electronics products.
When asked, Chairman of BSM Group, one of the top importers of the country, Abul Bashar Chowdhury told Daily Industry that the import of food grains has decreased a lot this year. Many companies have reduced production due to lack of raw materials. Again, this year there was an effect of rising prices in the world market.
He said, due to these reasons, due to the disruption in the supply of goods, the prices have increased, which has created additional pressure on the common people.
Abul Bashar Chowdhury said that since the beginning of this year, the dollar has caused the most damage to the import of goods. Even though we have been importing products for decades, we have never faced such a crisis with the dollar. Had to face problems while doing LC. The problem occurred even after bringing the product to the country. Due to the lack of dollars, products are floating in the sea day after day. This has increased the cost of importers. Which has an impact on the market.
However, in this regard, Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) research director, economist Khandaker Golam Moazzem told Daily Industry, it is true that in the current situation, our country cannot afford to import as usual. While overall reserves have declined, there are many outstanding debts. Taking them into account, reducing product import savings is a great strategy.
He said, however, the decrease in imports is the cause of food inflation. Consumers are under price pressure due to reduced imports of food products and energy. Again, as much as inflationary pressure has been created, unethical benefits are being taken by syndicate in the market. More pressure is shown than the actual pressure.
This year, the Russia-Ukraine war also had a major impact on product imports. Since the start of the war, commodity prices have been rising in world markets, reaching record highs at one point. At that time the import of several products was almost relaxed. Besides, after the Russia-Ukraine war, the import of several products including fertilizer, wheat, oilseeds from the two countries to Bangladesh dropped to almost zero quota.
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