Vol. 5 Num 400 Tue. July 12, 2005  
Front Page

Costly dollar makes essentials dearer

A nagging dollar crisis impeding opening of letters of credit (LC) by importers has pushed up the prices of essential commodities recently, market sources said.

Prices of garlic, onion, lentil, edible oil and sugar rose last week due to lack of adequate supply from international markets, importers at Moulvibazar and Shyambazar in Dhaka said.

Contradicting the real picture, the prime minister on Sunday said the prices of essentials have not increased that much. She said a section of newspapers are reporting on the issue 'for nothing'.

"Repeated devaluation of taka against dollar in the floating market created an uncertainty in the export-import trade, posing a serious threat to the demand-supply situation especially of the import-dependant products," Sujit Saha, manager of Jamjam Traders at Shyambazar told The Daily Star yesterday.

He said import cost of garlic rose by Tk 10 to 12 a kg during the period. Chinese garlic now sells at Tk 56 a kg which was Tk 40 a week ago. The price of local garlic has also risen to Tk 40 from Tk 32.

Local onion is sold at Tk 18 a kg, which was Tk 15 two weeks ago. Onion imported from India now sells at Tk 16 which was Tk 12 two weeks ago.

The price of lentil has risen sharply to Tk 50 a kg against the previous rate of Tk 44.

Market sources said production of lentil in India, the major source of the item, has declined this year, which has pushed up the import price.

Although the wholesale price of sugar is decreasing, the retail price is on the rise. Sugar is sold at Tk 1,260 per maund (about 38kg) in the wholesale markets against last week's price of Tk 1,280. But its retail price rose to Tk 38 a kg against the previous price of Tk 34.

Prices of different categories of edible oil have increased by Tk 4 to Tk 5 a kg due to the demand-supply gap, the market sources said.

Importers said the import cost per 40-kg soya bean oil has increased to $350 this year from previous year's $190. Soya bean oil is now at Tk 1,700 per 40-kg in the wholesale market.

Prices of all varieties of rice have recorded slight increase in both retail and wholesale markets. The average increase is Tk 1 a kg.

Prices of potato, salt and flour have also increased slightly in the kitchen markets. Vegetables have become dearer by Tk 2 to Tk 5 a kg in last one week.

Retailers blamed torrential rain across the country and illegal toll collection from trucks for the price hike of vegetables.

Meanwhile, left leaning 11-party alliance and the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) yesterday protested the prime minister's comment on the price hike of essentials.

Although the prices of essentials are going beyond the capacity of common people, the prime minister thinks the prices have not increased much, 11-party leaders said at a party meeting at the Workers Party office in the capital.

They asked the prime minister to withdraw her 'irresponsible' comments on the price hike.

The CPB leaders at a rally in Dhaka yesterday said the PM's comment will inspire the dishonest traders and profiteers to continue their malpractice.