Sohanur Rahman was in the Palashi market in the capital, bargaining for eggs one Saturday afternoon. When he was asked for 150 taka per dozen eggs, he told the seller that the government had set the price of each egg at 12 taka, so he shouldn't have to pay 12 and a half taka.
However, the dispute was not resolved, and Sohanur Rahman ended up purchasing a dozen eggs for 150 taka. When asked to comment on the situation, he simply stated, "It is frustrating."
In response to inquiries about why the seller, Abdul Khalek, did not sell the eggs at the government-set price, he explained to Prothom Alo, "Yesterday, I purchased 100 eggs from the Tejgaon egg farm at Tk 1,140. The wholesale price of each egg was 11.40 taka. Transportation costs are added to this. If any eggs are spoiled or broken, those costs should also be considered. Additionally, there the overhead costs ofshop rent, electricity and egg packaging. All in all, the “cost per egg exceeds 12 taka."
Abdul Khalek argues that selling eggs at the government-fixed price would result in a loss. He suggests that if the wholesale price of eggs decreases, it might be possible to maintain a lower retail price.
The government has also set prices for two other essential commodities—onions and potatoes. However, these products are not available at the government's specified prices. This was found after visiting the Palashi Bazar, New Market’s Kitchen Market, Hatirpool Bazar, and Kanthal Bagan Bazar.
The government has set the retail price of potatoes at 35 to 36 taka per kg. However, it is not available in the market for less than 50 taka per kg. Consequently, consumers are forced to pay at least 14 taka more for one kg of potatoes.
The government has set the price of local onions at 64 to 65 taka per kg. However, in the retail market, it is currently being sold at 85 to 90 taka, which is 20 to 25 taka more than the fixed price. Additionally, the retail price of imported onions ranges from 60 to 70 taka, depending on the quality.
Abdul Majed, an importer and wholesale onion trader from Shyambazar in old Dhaka, informed Prothom Alo that the impact of the government's announcement might be felt in the market later. However, he doesn't anticipate a significant decrease in onion prices from the current situation.
Traders have raised concerns about market raids and harassment of retailers in addition to price fixing. Many traders have labeled this approach as 'addressing the symptoms rather than the root cause.'
According to them, reducing prices in the retail market is not feasible without reducing prices throughout the entire supply chain. Several buyers expressed the same while talking to Prothom Alo.
The President of Tejgaon Egg Traders Association, Mohammad Amanat Ullah, conveyed to Prothom Alo that attempting to control the market by fixing egg prices is futile without implementing measures to reduce farmers' production costs.
The Bangladesh Poultry Association, representing marginal farmers, stated in a recent press release that the government-set egg prices would remain only on paper. Instead, they recommended reducing the cost of chicken feed and stabilizing the day-old chick market.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, in a press conference last Thursday, announced the fixed prices for eggs, potatoes, and local onions. This decision was made during a meeting related to the price review of agricultural products.
The National Directorate of Consumer Rights Protection has been conducting market raids since last Friday to monitor the government-set prices. Over the past two days, the agency conducted raids across the country and imposed fines on 234 companies. However, there are no signs of a reduction in market prices.