Overall living cost in Dhaka surged by 6.88 per cent in 2020 coupled with a significant income loss for low and middle-income people amid the Covid-19 pandemic, finds Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB).
A survey of the consumers’ rights body in 15 retail markets found that cost of products and services rose 6.31 per cent last year. CAB says last year’s rise in living cost in Dhaka was the highest in three years.“The increase in living cost during the corona pandemic and a fall in income caused immense sufferings to middle income lower middle income and low-income people,” CAB president Ghulam Rahman said in a virtual press conference on Wednesday.
The rise in living cost was 6.50 per cent while the cost of products and services increased by 6.08 per cent in 2019. In 2018, the rise in these two indicators was 6 per cent and 5.19 respectively.
The average price of rice soared by 20 per cent in 2020 compared to that of 2019, while the overall rise in prices of pulse, spice and vegetable was recorded at 14.18 per cent, 24.66 per cent and 9.88 per cent respectively.
In a year, the average price of beef and mutton soared by 10.49 per cent in the capital, chicken price jumped by 10.83 per cent, egg price saw 5.32 per cent rise, fish price rose 7.13 per cent and powdered milk got 7.64 per cent costlier.
Price of general clothing jumped by more than 9 per cent, according to CAB.
Meanwhile, lower middle class and lower-income people saw 5.35 per cent increase in their house rent last year. Rents of flats surged 7.85 per cent and rents of shanties and mess seats spiked 3.45 per cent.WASA’s water price per thousand litre went up by 25 per cent in a year, while the hike in residential and commercial electricity prices was 6.05 per cent and 4.81 per cent respectively.
Citing a survey of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), CAB said household income dropped by Tk 4,000 to Tk 15,000 in 2020, which clearly indicates that the pandemic had negative impacts on general people as unemployment grew along with a fall in income in the period.
The CAB president said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has shown more efficiency and farsightedness in tackling the corona crisis than Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former US President Donald Trump.
Carrying out a survey in rice production and supply chain, CAB suggested that Bangladesh must achieve self-sufficiency in rice production to ensure food security in the country.
It also suggested introducing “contract growing” and crop insurance in paddy and rice production involving the rice millers. The government should provide improved seed, agro-inputs and loans and collect paddy from the farmers immediately after harvesting.
This will contribute to increased rice production apart from ensuring fair price for the growers and lowering risks of crop losses due to natural calamities, according to CAB.
Citing that lack of market monitoring and lax enforcement of consumer rights related laws caused market volatility during the pandemic, CAB also called for creating a new ministry to better protect consumer rights in the country.