The country's commodity market remains volatile despite various government efforts to cool off the prices of essential items like rice, sugar and edible oil.
The prices of rice, flour, lentil, soybean oil and sugar saw an increase of Tk3-10 per kg within a week in the capital.
However, the prices of winter vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, beans, radish and tomato have come down by Tk5-10 per kg amid growing supply, bringing a sigh of relief to average consumers.
Monitoring the capital's Newmarket, Azampur, Uttara and Mirpur 1 markets, the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) found that the prices of wheat flour, soybean oil, sugar and rice have increased further.
According to TCB data, a week ago in the capital, coarse rice [Swarna and China/Irri) was sold at Tk42-52, medium grain rice (BR 28 and Paijam) at Tk52-58 and fine rice (Nazirshail and Miniket) at Tk65-75 per kg.
On Friday, coarse rice was selling for Tk48-55 per kg, medium grain rice for Tk55-60 and fine rice for Tk66-84.
Mohammad Raihan, a seller of M/S Matlab Traders in Karwan Bazar, said, "There is no shortage of rice in the market but millers have hiked the prices of rice. So, we had to pay them Tk2-4 more per kg."
According to TCB, loose flour was sold at Tk55-60 per kg and packaged flour at Tk58-63 per kg a week ago. The price of loose flour rose to Tk65 a kg on Friday while packaged flour was selling for Tk58-70.
Similarly, loose soybean oil was selling for Tk160-170 per litre and bottled soybean oil for Tk175-180 a week ago. But on Friday, the loose soybean oil price increased to Tk190 per litre while bottled soybean oil was selling for Tk178-192 per litre.
A week ago, importers sold large grain lentils for Tk98-105 a kg, medium grain for Tk115- 120, and small grain lentils for Tk125-130.
The prices of all three variants of lentils on Friday showed an increase of Tk5 to Tk10.
According to TCB data, sugar was sold at Tk105-115 a week ago. The price stood at Tk120 yesterday.
The capital's Karwan Bazar and Kalyanpur markets on Friday were seen to have an adequate supply of winter vegetables.
In the span of a week, the prices of beans, radish, eggplant and green chilli dropped by at least Tk10 a kg and are selling for Tk30-40, said Sirajul Islam, a vegetable vendor at Karwan Bazar, thanks to the good supply.
Govt-set price of sugar is not being obeyed
At the beginning of last month, the government fixed the prices of refined loose sugar at Tk90 and refined packaged sugar at Tk95. But the essential commodity is being sold at Tk20-25 more than the govt-set price due to a shortage in the market.
Retailers, however, blamed the price issue on the supply chain saying that they have to sell sugar at a higher price as they had bought it at a higher cost.
Rifat Hossain, the seller of the Rifat store in Karwan Bazar, said, "We are not able to buy sugar at the price set by the government but regular consumers are blaming us for the price hike. But we run businesses and how we can sell a product without profit."
The government has so many agencies but still, they are not able to monitor the market properly and the prices of daily necessities are rising almost every week, Rifat Hossain added.
Bithi Zaman, a resident of the Hatirpool area, told the Business Standard, "My husband has a clothing business in Bangabazar and we are struggling to run a family of five with his income."
"A year ago, I used to feed my kids eggs daily, now I feed them eggs once a week. We cannot buy beef, instead, buy broiler chickens once a week," she said.
Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) President Ghulam Rahman told The Business Standard, "The government needs to improve the supply chain in the market to keep the prices of essential commodities stable. If prices rise in the international market, it can take action through tax adjustment or import at the government level."