Rising prices of basic necessities: the noose is tightening on low-income groups

The cost of living has gone up, but the incomes of most consumers have not. It’s not just edible oil and rice prices that are hurting, it’s almost everything they need in the kitchen every day.

In Dhaka, lentils, potatoes, flour, onions, garlic, ginger and other necessities have become more expensive this week compared to last, The Daily Star found while visiting several kitchen markets yesterday.

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Even the gas used for cooking is more expensive now.

People in the lower and lower middle income groups need to tighten their belts more.

Data from the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh shows how much prices have risen.

Prices for Miniket and Nazirshail rice varieties were selling for between 75 and 80 taka per kg, up at least 5 taka from last week, retailers said. Coarse rice is now Tk 58 per kg, up from Tk 8.

Sajib Mia, a trader at Mirpur-1 Kitchen Market, said potatoes cost Tk 30 per kg, up from about Tk 5 a week ago.

The medium red lentils were 140 Tk per kg, up to 15 Tk, while the smaller ones were 135 Tk per kg, up to 5 Tk.

Traders said brown flour, also known as atta, was Tk 48 per kg, at least Tk 6 more than a week ago. Marked ones were Tk 57, down to Tk 5.

Taleb Sheikh, security guard for a house in the capital’s Tejturi Bazar, has a family of four. He said that with the rising prices of basic necessities, it has become difficult for him to manage his family.

”Before, if we spent 100 Tk a day, we could eat. Now even Tk 200 does not seem to be enough. We only eat rice, eggs, vegetables and lentils every day.

“’We don’t want to eat meat,’ my son and daughter say to console me… but the fact is, I don’t have the money to buy fish or meat. children at the village house,” said a dejected Taleb.

What he didn’t know was that sending them to the village might not help.

Food inflation in rural areas was 6.71% and 5.49% in urban areas in March, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. He put headline food inflation at 6.34% in March, down from 5.60% in January.

According to a recent multi-sector research report prepared jointly by the Center for Research on Power and Participation and the Institute of Governance and Development in Brac, more than three million people have become poor again during the pandemic.

He said that number had declined as Bangladesh began to recover from the fallout of the pandemic, but the recent rise in prices of basic necessities has again impoverished 21 lakh people.

People like Taleb could face tougher times. For them, there is still no light at the end of the tunnel.

Retailers and wholesalers fear that prices of imported items will rise further due to supply disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine.

Shahjahan Talukdar, wholesaler and owner of Mukta rice agency in Karwan Bazar, one of the biggest cooking markets in the capital, said: “I have been in the rice business for years. I have never seen rice prices go up during the peak season. He always fell.

SM Nazer Hossain, vice president of the Bangladesh Consumers Association, said there was inflationary pressure in the country and its effects were affecting all sectors.

He said soaring prices for basic necessities have put consumers under pressure as costs have risen for almost everything.

Market surveillance must be strengthened. Otherwise, some traders will raise prices to make a quick buck, he said.

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