Consumers and market observers fear that prices of essentials will skyrocket during the Ramadan despite sufficient stock of the commodities such as edible oil, sugar, onion, gram, lentils, date and rice in the market.
They stressed the need for regular market monitoring and a strong stance against the market syndicates responsible for price manipulation during Ramadan.They urged the government to break the syndicate before Ramadan so that they cannot play foul in the market.
According to commerce ministry data, the annual demand for edible oil is around 18 lakh tonnes while the estimated demand of edible oil during Ramadan is around three lakh tonnes.
The demand for two lakh tonnes is met locally and the rest is imported.
Bangladesh Bank data shows that this fiscal year’s total edible oil import stands at 14.69 lakh tonnes and LCs have been opened for another 17.66 lakh tonnes.
Bottled edible oil is currently selling at Tk 100-104/ per litre while the price of loose edible oil is Tk 80-82 per litre.
Total demand for sugar during Ramadan is three lakh tonnes. There is no scarcity of sugar in the local market as a total of 10.73 lakh tonnes of sugar has been imported this fiscal, according to Tariff Commission data. Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data suggests that sugar is currently selling at Tk 50-55 per kg in the retail market.Like sugar and edible oil, there is no scarcity of gram as the stock of gram is adequate against the estimated demand in the month of fasting. The annual demand for gram is one lakh tonnes of which 80 per cent is consumed during Ramadan. Around 89,390 tonnes of gram were imported this fiscal so far and LCs have been opened for another 84,000 tonnes.
The demand of lentils is estimated at 80,000 tonnes in Ramadan while around 1.87 lakh metric tonnes were imported this fiscal year and LCs were opened for another 1.96 lakh tonnes, according to Bangladesh Bank data. Lentils are available in local market at Tk 60-110 per kg based on quality.
Total country’s total demand for onion is 24 lakh tonnes, of which five tonnes is consumed in Ramadan. A total of 23.30 lakh tonnes were locally produced and 10 lakh tonnes of onion were imported last fiscal. In this fiscal, around 8 lakh tonnes of onion have been imported.
Despite having adequate stock, onion price has already started soaring in the city’s kitchen markets.
Md Shahriar, deputy director of national consumer rights protection, said they have already started monitoring the market so that traders cannot increase the prices by creating artificial shortage of essential items.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) president Ghulam Rahman said the traders try to make hefty profits during Ramadan by increasing the prices of essentials illogically.
“There is no alternative to strict market monitoring by the government to prevent price hike during Ramadan,” he said.