Hiking the price of essentials during Ramadan has become a norm in the country. But this time the price of almost all the commodities, especially of the imported items, increased before the month of Ramadan. Though the traders use the price hike in the global market and the devaluation of taka against the US dollar as an excuse, none of this explains why the price of locally produced goods would increase.

The price of sugar was Tk 78-80 per kg on the first day of Ramadan last year, says a Prothom Alo report. But the price was Tk 115-120 per kg even before the beginning of this month of fasting. This means the price has shot up by Tk 37-40 per kg. As per a calculation of Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC), the demand of sugar per month is 150,000 tonnes. But the demand increases to nearly 300,000 tonnes during the Ramadan.

But this increase in demand is not only for sugar, but also for other commodities like flour, dates, gram, red chilli, turmeric, fish, meat and egg. Taking advantage of this, unscrupulous businesspeople hiked the price of these items. The price will increase more unless the government strengthens it market monitoring.

The excuse of price hike in the global market and dollar exchange rate can somewhat explain the price hike of imported items but in no way it is applicable to local products. Despite this, the selling of broiler chicken at the retail level at Tk 250-280 per kg is not normal. What could have happened in the last one year that poultry price would increase so much?

We think a syndicate of producers and traders are responsible for the mechanism behind this price hike. In the wake of criticism from different quarters, four large poultry firms have announced that they would sell broilers at Tk 190-195 per kg. This decision was taken only after the intervention of the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection. We hope other such producers will follow the suit.

Everywhere around the world traders decrease the price of commodities during festivals for the sake of the consumers. But in our country the unscrupulous traders take the month of Ramadan and festivals like Eid as a scope to earn more profit. They hike prices at their whim because of the weakness of the organisations responsible for monitoring markets. Not only the poor and the lower income people, even the middle class have been suffering from this exorbitant price hike not only at the time of Ramadan, rather around the year. No doubt their sufferings will grow during this Ramadan.

It was expected that the price of commodities will be hiked at the time of Ramadan. Despite this, it does not seem the government took any effective measure to curb this. The commerce minister assured that the price will not increase. But the question is will the traders take his words into account.

The way the price has already been hiked, the poor and the lower income people will have to fast with less intake of food. These people could get a bit relief if the government increases market monitoring and supplies more products through TCB (Trading Corporation Bangladesh). Like Selim Raihan, the professor of economics department at Dhaka University, we want to say the government should use its market controlling mechanisms.