The price of daily essentials goes up ahead of Ramadan every year. There are about 20 days left for Ramadan. In the meantime, prices have started to rise. The price of commodities like rice, lentils, sugar, wheat, powdered milk and so on are high in the international market. Additional shipping rates are added to that. Previously shipping rates which were USD 800, are now around USD 1,800. As a result, prices are already high in the country's market. In the last one year, the price of rice has increased by 29 per cent and that of oil by 37 per cent. Then if prices go up again for Ramadan as usual, it will be adding salt to the wound.
Many people have become unemployed because of the pandemic. And the income of those who have jobs has decreased. According to a survey, the average income of the people has decreased by 20 per cent due to the pandemic. Even if the current prices remain stable, it will still be difficult for the people to manage. Another hike in price is totally unwarranted.
All over the world, the prices of commodities fall during religious occasions or festivals. There are numerous offers and discounts in Europe and America around the festival times. So their festivities start a month early. Many people wait for this time of year. They buy daily essentials then. Such offers are familiar worldwide.The only exception seems to be Bangladesh. Prices go up before any festival.
Our question is, why will the price of things go up during Ramadan? Prices of onions, gram, lentils, sugar, milk, oil, flour, puffed rice, dates, potatoes, eggplant and cucumbers shoot up. We already know how much additional items we need.
For example, during Ramadan, the demand for edible oil is 200,000 tonnes, onions 500,000 tonnes, sugar 136,000 tonnes and gram 80,000 tonnes. So when we have three important pieces of information - what is needed, when it is is needed and how much is needed - why there is a shortage of products and high prices?
Why can't we take action accordingly in advance? The ministries of agriculture and commerce have an account of how much a particular product has been produced or stocked in the country. They must know how much extra to import. The ministry of commerce should know in advance from which country these products can be imported at affordable prices. All in all, a standard market system for Ramadan should have been established long ago. Why does this disruption take place every year?
However, the government says that the capacity of the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh has been enhanced to deliver goods to the general public at affordable prices in 500 trucks. Those products will also be available in e-commerce sites. It will be strictly monitored so that the difference between the import price and the sale price is not very high. But all this is a special arrangement. When will we see a normal market in Ramadan?