- Many people with limited incomes have reduced their consumption of fish and meat
- Some are trying to increase their income by doing more than one job
- Many others are working extra hours to earn more
It was already a struggle for Anwar Hossain, a private hospital employee, to make ends meet with his salary of Tk20,000. On top of that, soaring prices of food and daily commodities added to his stress to the point he could no longer handle it. Left with no other choices, he opted to open a grocery store in Moghbazar with his meagre savings and money borrowed from relatives last month.
Anwar opens the shop in the morning before going to work and his wife manages the store during the day. After returning from office, he takes over at the store, which is on average adding Tk500 daily to his earnings.
The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has led to instability in the international commodity markets and the prices of all daily commodities and food items have gone up in the country. To cope with this pressure, many people with limited incomes have reduced their consumption of fish and meat which have become difficult to afford. Under these circumstances, some are trying to increase their income by doing more than one job.
Anwar Hossain told The Business Standard that he has to pay Tk12,000 in house rent. The cost of food for his family of three has increased from some Tk7-8,000 to Tk10,000. For his college going son, he needs some Tk3-4,000 every month.
"I had to look for an alternative source of income," he said.
"I had savings of some Tk70,000, from which I had to spend some Tk20,000 in the last two months. I realized that unless I use my savings effectively, all of it will soon be gone. So, I decided to use the remaining Tk50,000 and borrowed some two lakh taka in loans from relatives to open the shop," said Anwar.
"Although it is difficult to run a shop alongside a job, I must do it," he added.
Yasir Hossain, manager of a Thai Aluminium store, has started a small hardware store, which his brother runs and he sits there after office.
"The store is yet to earn much. Currently I am only able to manage rent and employee salaries from sales, but I hope earnings from the store will increase over time. It feels safer to have an extra source of income. The way prices of daily necessities are going up, it is difficult to run a family without any extra income," said Yasir, who runs a family of five.
To cope with the impact of inflation, Anwar Hossain, a sales representative of a private company, has chosen to provide motorbike rides after office like many others.
Not only service holders, but many students from limited income families have also been forced to find a source of income.
"My family could not send me any money in the last two months. To pay for my living expenses in Dhaka, I am sharing rides," said Alamgir Kabir, a Dhaka College BBA student from Netrokona.
"Meals at my mess have increased in price from Tk45 to Tk55, and the menu these days is mostly limited to pulses, eggs, and vegetables. Even after that, the cost for food and rent per month is Tk4,000, which I must earn now," he added.
Alamgir said he earns some Tk500 if he provides rides the whole day. However, he can only do that four days a week as he needs the remaining three days for classes and studies.
Shahidul Islam, a Moghbazar rickshaw puller, said, "I used to drive five days a week and take rest on the other two days of the week as the body needs to recuperate. Now, even after driving a rickshaw every day of the week I am having a hard time supporting my family."
Selina Begum, a housemaid, works at two houses in Mohammadpur. With her monthly earning of Tk6,500 she is also struggling to cope with rising commodity prices.
Selina said she is also looking for more work besides two jobs.
To cope with the soaring prices of essentials like rice, pulses, oil, bread, milk, eggs, meat, laundry soap, and toothpaste, many are cutting back on food while many others are desperately seeking an additional source of income.