After onions, prices of nearly a dozen other essentials keep soaring in the local market
While buying essentials from a grocery store adjacent to his residence, Yusuf Arefin found that the price of cooking oil had was up by Tk8 per litre.
Onions cost Tk160 per kilogram on Friday morning, which he had bought at Tk100 per kg a couple of days ago.
Two weeks ago, Yusuf had purchased sugar at Tk65 per kg, the price of which also rose to Tk72 per kg.
"The New Year begins with an extra squeeze," said Yusuf, a resident of Badda, Dhaka. "There is no chance to avoid buying the essentials. But I bought them in smaller amount than usual."
According to the state-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, the price of onion, potato, sugar, soybean oil, cardamom, palm oil and eggs have increased in the last one week.
Vegetable prices also did not edge down despite high supply.
There are a number of grocery stores behind the Karwan Bazar kitchen market from where the low-income people buy loose (non-branded) soybean oil. The price of loose edible oil jumped by Tk7 to Tk95 in the last ten days.
Although a rise in supply of onions pulled down the price to Tk50 per kg, it has since bounced back to Tk70.
Aminul, a Karwan Bazar trader, said that customers buy less if the prices go up. "Then our business also goes dull due less consumption."
Mohammad Ali Bhutta, general secretary of the Bangladesh Edible Oil Wholesalers Association, told The Business Standard, "Price hike in the international market is edging up the soybean price. The oil refining companies are frequently increasing the price."
In a recent meeting with the edible oil manufacturers and marketing companies, the Ministry of Commerce requested them not to raise the price.
The companies, in response, demanded slashing the three value-added tax (VAT) slabs to one, cancelation of advance duty, and lowering the amount of Vitamin A requirement in cooking oil.
Although the government said they would take initiatives to realize the demands, the companies still raised oil price by Tk8 per litre.
Vegetable prices, which are usually low in winter, are more expensive compared to the same period last year.
Tomatoes cost Tk60 per kg, which was Tk30-35 last year. Eggplants are priced at Tk50-60 per kg, higher than the Tk30 to Tk40 price previous year.
Cauliflower and cabbage are being sold at Tk30-35, at least Tk10 higher than the previous year. Potatoes are selling for Tk35 per kg although the supply is plenty.
Arifur Rahman, a customer at the Rampura kitchen market, said, "The prices were high at the beginning of winter. Those do not show any signs of dropping even in mid-winter this year."
Ghulam Rahman, president of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh, said the spiked prices of essentials have put an extra squeeze on the public.
"When prices go up, people tend to consume less," he said, adding, "Less consumption affects the production, and the gross domestic product of the country as well."