The price of rice variety (BR-28) has increased by Tk 2 per kg and is being sold at Tk 50 to 52. However, the price of fine rice bought mainly by the upper and upper middle class people has not changed. Nazirshail rice is being sold at Tk 70 per kg as before while miniket at Tk 60 to 62.
Rice in Bangladesh is classified into three categories – coarse, medium and fine. Mainly the upper class people are the consumers of fine. Therefore, a spike in the prices of coarse or medium rice results in utter distress for the low income people. Beside rice, the price of coarse lentils has also increased by Tk 5 per kg.
If prices of other items rise, people manage by purchasing less. However, it is not possible in the case of rice as people need to consume a certain amount of rice to survive.
Once we were recognised as a nation that lived on rice and fish. But due to the price hike, fish and rice have been replaced by rice and dal (lentils). People who do not have the capacity to buy fish or meat depend on rice, lentils and vegetables to meet their needs.
However, this trend of rising prices is not limited to lentil and rice only. Prices of fish, meat, sugar, edible oil and vegetables have gone up as well. Last year, there was an abundance in hilsa fish in the market and its price was within the capacity of the common people. But the scenario is completely the opposite this year which has an impact on the prices of other fishes.
So, if the price of layer chicken (shonalika) increases by Tk 40 to 45 per kilogram, it is very usual that the people with limited income would be worried.
The price of vegetables has also gone up. Apart from papaya, arum root and lady’s finger, no vegetable is available at Tk 50 per kg. How many of the people have the financial capacity to buy 1 kilogram of beans for Tk 120?
People’s income has lessened a lot amid the pandemic. On the other hand, prices of daily commodities are rising. As a result many are buying much less vegetables, meat and fish as compared to their needs.
Amid the pandemic last year, the cost of living rose by 6.88 per cent, the highest in three years. The current trend in the market this year, presumably, will further increase the cost of living. What will the low and limited income people do in that case?
Different types of rationing systems had been introduced in many countries, including India, to provide the low income people with the daily necessaries. We have no such system here. Our government can at least strengthen the market monitoring system if not introducing a rationing system. This will reduce the burden on the people with limited income to some extent at least.