Despite the government's assurance of keeping the market stable during Ramadan, the prices of various essentials in city kitchen market have marked a sharp rise.
Visiting Shantinagar, Malibagh, Hatiropool and Mohammadpur kitchen markets, the UNB correspondents found daily essentials, including pulses, chickpea, meat, fish, chickens and vegetables, selling at much higher prices compared to what were a couple of weeks ago.
"See, I bought cucumber at Tk 70 per kg while tomato at Tk 80," M Kamal, a shopper at Malibagh kitchen market, told UNB.
He said he found the prices of many essentials selling at prices double than what were just a few days back.
Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) has fixed the price of beef at Tk 450 per kg for Ramadan, Tk 25 less than that of the last Ramadan.
"Even, they're not abiding by the directives of the authorities. The beef is selling at Tk 480-500 per kg," Rahman Ali, another shopper, told UNB.
Market visits by the UNB correspondents show that green chili is selling at Tk 40-60 per kg while brinjal at Tk 60-70, potato at Tk 25, tomato at Tk 80, onion at Tk 40, cucumber at Tk 70-80 and gram (chola) at Tk 100 per kg.
Boiler chickens are selling at Tk 150 to Tk 160 per kg.
"Vegetable prices have gone up, too. We who belong to the middle class have to suffer a lot during Ramadan every year for the price spiral of daily commodities. We see newspaper reports every year but there's no solution. There's no sincere effort to keep the prices stable," Moshiur Rahman, another consumer, told UNB.
Earlier, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan urged the business community to do their businesses ethically throughout the year, especially during Ramadan, warning that law enforcement agencies will not spare any unscrupulous trader if he or she is found guilty.
Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed on 13 May said there is no possibility to see any price hike of essentials as there are adequate stocks of sugar, edible oil, chickpea, onion, garlic and dates.
He also warned of taking stern action if anybody tries to create an artificial crisis in the market.
Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) started selling of five daily essentials - soybean oil, sugar, red lentil, grams, and dates- from 6 May across the country for the convenience of people ahead of Ramadan.
The essentials are available at 10 TCB sales centers, 2,784 dealers and 184 truck-mounted sales stations across the country.
Of the 184 truck sales points, 32 are stationed at different points in the capital, 10 in Chattogram and five each in the remaining divisional cities and two each in district towns, he added.
He said a consumer can buy highest 4 kgs of sugar (local), 4 kgs of lentil, 5 litres of soybean oil, 5 kgs of grams and one kgs of dates from a truck, dealer or TCB sales centre.
Each litre of soybean oil is selling at Tk 85 while Tk 55 is fixed for each kg of sugar, Tk 55 for lentil, Tk 70 for gram and Tk 120 for each kg of date.
General secretary of Consumers' Association of Bangladesh Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan said the prices of essentials are increasing in the market due to some profit mongers.
"The government says there's an adequate stock of essentials. If that is the fact, there's no reason to see any rise in the prices of essentials. But some traders have created an artificial crisis," he said.
Kabir observed that the prices of onion, garlic and gingers are already on the rise. "It's bad news for consumers."
He also finds little difference between TCB prices and that of the market in the case of some essential items. "This marginal difference is unlikely to encourage people to buy TCB products. TCB should further reduce its prices of essentials."