A customer picks up lemons from a shop in Karwan Bazar in the capital yesterday. Despite fears of soaring prices of essentials during Ramadan, the market was rather stable. Photo: Rashed Shumon
Prices of most essentials remained stable in Ramadan, breaking the common trait of a price hike during the festival season in the last couple of years, thanks to adequate supply.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said prices were largely stable due to a smooth supply of essentials.
“I talked to importers before Ramadan to know the demand and supply situation with a view to controlling the market. I have asked them to import essentials based on consumers' demand.
“I've sent a team from my ministry to the Myanmar border to know the price of onion as India has increased its price,” he told The Daily Star.
India has hiked the minimum export price of onions by 67 percent to $500 per tonne in a bid to discourage export and improve local supply as its prices have surged in domestic markets.
After the increase, the minimum export price of onions translates to Rs 30 per kg, which is equivalent to Tk 39.
Onion import had soared by 76 percent in the first 10 months of the last fiscal year. Onions worth $153 million were imported during the period, according to the LC settlement statistics of Bangladesh Bank.
The price of onions fell by 15.21 percent to Tk 39 a kg compared to last week, according to data compiled by this newspaper during visits to different kitchen markets in the capital.
However, the prices of oil, gram, sugar, milk, garlic, ginger and lentils, the mostly consumed items, remained stable.
Badshah Miah, a trader at Mohammadpur Town Hall Kitchen Market, sold a kg of onion at Tk 38-39 as its supply increased in the market.
The wholesalers were selling onions at Tk 36-37 per kg, he said.
Homemaker Sultana Tabassum said the market was stable this Ramadan except for a number of vegetables.
“Last year I had to cut the education budget of my two schoolchildren due to price hike of essentials. But I am happy as the market is stable this time around,” she mentioned. The Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) has been selling essentials in 50 districts on 174 trucks at subsidised rates to keep the prices stable during Ramadan, said the minister.
The state-run agency supplies sugar, lentils and edible oil to its 3,032 appointed dealers.
The commerce ministry, added Tofail, has engaged 14 vigilance teams to monitor prices of essentials at the kitchen markets.
The ministry has requested Bangladesh Bank to ease the opening of letters of credit (LCs) for importing essentials.
Import of essentials has increased in Ramadan as their prices in the world market are sliding, said Abdur Razzaque, president of Moulvibazar Wholesale Market Association.
The supply has beat demand this year due to hefty import, he added.
The price of gram has declined gradually. It was selling at Tk 50 per kg at retail markets, noted Razzaque.
However, the prices of some vegetables such as green chilli and tomato saw a hike. Price of green chilli rose by 20 percent to Tk 90 a kg, compared to last week's rates, while the price of tomato rose by 30 percent to Tk 130 a kg.
The supply of green chilli was affected due to heavy rainfall, said Md Saidul Islam, a trader at Karwan Bazar Kitchen Market,
Price of tomatoes was high as this was not its season, he pointed out.
The price of vermicelli was also stable. Abul Kashem, a trader at Palashi Kitchen Market, was selling a 200-gramme packet of vermicelli at Tk 30, a 400-gram packet of powdered milk at Tk 230, and one litre of branded edible oil at Tk 114.