While edible oil manufacturing and distributing companies fixed the price of soybean oil at Tk 139 per litre, the shops were selling it for at Tk 4-5 more than this price. The companies fixed the price at a meeting with the commerce ministry. But the association of the companies again on 19 April wrote a letter to Bangladesh Trade and Commission of the ministry demanding increase by Tk 5 in per litre. The Prothom Alo correspondent found that the shop owners had already increased the price. The oil that was distributed before the issuance of the letter to Trade and Tariff Commission should have been sold at Tk 139 but shop owners did otherwise. There is none to monitor the market.
The price of edible oil has been increased at a time when the income of general people has decreased due to the second wave of coronavirus. Oil is a daily necessity like rice or lentils. What will the impoverished and marginalised people do?
Also, prices of vegetables, iftar items and spices are high in the market. The vegetables are being sold at Tk 40-60 per kilogram which is way too much for poor people.
TCB could have become an alternative but the government rendered this organisation ineffective from the very beginning. TCB could be the last resort for the low-income people. TCB is selling edible oil, lentils, sugar, onions and some other commodities in the open market but the amount is too negligible to impact the market. As a result, the market of edible oil and other commodities are in the grasp of the syndicate.
The price of rice also increased before Ramadan. The control of rice market went to rice mill owners and businessmen due to low stock of rice in the government warehouses. They increase and decrease the supply at their own interest. It is abnormal that there is no impact on the market despite beginning of Boro harvesting and coming of imported rice in the market. The price of rice decreased Tk 2-3 per kg only recently after continuous uptrend for a long time. The mill owners and businessmen could not have controlled the market had the stock in the government warehouses been sufficient.
The government should increase the sale of edible oil, sugar, onions, lentils and other essential commodities in open market through TCB at least before Eid. The authorities should also monitor the market. It is more important to pay attention to the market of edible oil and rice than conducting drives in the watermelon market.