Living costs soar
Consumers were hit with increased costs of living by as much as 11 percent in 2013 on the back of rising house rent, utility bills and prices of various essential food items.
"House rent is rising, keeping pace with the spiralling costs of fuel, electricity, water and commodities," the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) said in a statement yesterday.
The consumer rights campaigner prepared a report taking into account the costs of 114 food items, 26 essential commodities and 10 utility services, the findings of which was released yesterday.
It estimated the cost of living based on weights of commodities and services in the consumer basket and found that it soared 11 percent in 2013 from the previous year. The prices of food and services rose 12 percent and house rent 10.9 percent in the course of the year.
"Home owners disregard the existing rules for hiking house rents and do as they wish. As a result, many families were forced to shift to suburbs from the main town,” CAB said, while urging the government to revise the house rent law of 1991 for public's best interests.
The cost of electricity and fuel also increased in 2013, by 7.3 and 5.65 percent respectively, and water also became dearer.
During 2013, except for soybean oil, salt and sugar, the prices of various kinds of fish, spices, rice, pulse, flour, vegetables, chicken, powder milk, soap and tea, went up from the previous year. Onion, ginger, garlic and green chilli marked the highest increase, the report said, citing that the prices of the cooking ingredients rose by as much as 38.6 percent last year.
Onion prices averaged Tk 86 per kilogram in the August-December period and ginger Tk 147 a kg, while green chilli prices touched Tk 155 per kilogram in July.
Subsequently, the consumer rights group demanded effective enforcement of the competition law to prevent cartels or syndication of dishonest traders to curb unusual spiral in prices of commodities.
CAB also called for making the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh more effective to ensure smooth supply of essential commodities to the market.
"It is also necessary to check the dual roles of wholesalers," the report said, citing the traders' tendency to increase the prices of commodities as soon as a price rise occurs in the international market.
However, in case of price fall in the global market they remain slow in adjusting the domestic prices.
"This lethargy has to be stopped."
The report also mentioned “lawlessness” in setting CNG fares. A similar situation prevails in the healthcare sector, CAB said, citing the widely varying consultation fees.