Prices of most Ramadan essentials have started sliding slowly, thanks to an increased supply of the items.
Yesterday, retailers in three kitchen markets in the capital were selling date, gram, sugar, lentil, cucumber, green chilli and aubergine at rates lower by Tk 2 to Tk 120 per kg from those two weeks ago.
Green Chilli was selling at Tk 100 a kg at Palashi and Hatirpool kitchen markets. Early this month, it sold at Tk 150-220.
A kg of aubergine cost Tk 40-50, which sold at Tk 60-80 two weeks ago.
“Prices of some essentials are now a little lower compared to the eve of Ramadan. Today [yesterday], I have bought a kg of cucumber at Tk30, which cost Tk 50 two weeks ago,” said Alamgir Hossain, a retired government official.
There was a big gap between supply and demand of essentials in the first week of this month as most shoppers bought essentials in bulk ahead of Ramadan, said Lokman Hossain, general secretary of Karwan Bazar Khudro Kachamal Aarot Babshayi Bahumukhi Samabaya Samity Ltd, a platform of kitchen market wholesalers.
In the beginning of Ramadan, he noted, traders had brought around 50-70 tonnes of cucumber at Karwan Bazar every day, but its demand had almost doubled.
He attributed the sliding prices of essentials to a good supply of commodities.
However, sugar and Canadian lentil were still selling at higher prices than the ceiling set by the government. The items were selling at Tk46-48 and Tk 82-85 a kg respectively.
To keep the prices of essentials at tolerable level during the fasting month, the government and business bodies had fixed the maximum prices of six items.
Prices of Iraqi dates, sugar, Canadian lentil, chickpeas, palm oil and loose soybean oil were fixed at Tk 75-85, Tk 45.50, Tk 75-85, Tk 62 a kg, Tk 73-75 and Tk 105-108 a litre respectively.
The items other than sugar and Canadian lentil were selling at prices as fixed by the authorities.
Onion was selling at Tk 42-48 a kg at Palashi kitchen market. A week ago, it sold at Tk 38-42 depending on varieties. The vegetable was priced at Tk 26-34 a month ago, according to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).
The government has banned export of aubergine, cucumber, green chilli and coriander leaves for a month from July 7 to keep their prices stable during the Ramadan. The ban on export of onion and garlic is already in place.
The ban has helped ensuring smooth supply of essentials in the markets, said Md Helal Uddin, vice-president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).
Traders were now importing 50-70 tonnes of green chilli from India daily as the government has recently withdrawn tax and supplementary duties on this item, he added.
Besides, the FBCCI and different government agencies have beefed up market monitoring since the beginning of the Ramadan, noted the business leader.
“On Thursday, 14 government teams began monitoring markets so that traders can't charge consumers higher prices for Ramadan essentials,” mentioned Helal, who is also the convener of the FBCCI's price monitoring committee.
Contacted, Abul Hossain Miah, director general of the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, said four vigilance teams from his office regularly monitor kitchen markets in the capital to ensure consumer rights.