Bangladesh food

Rising non-food prices add woes to agonies

Already grappling with high prices for food and basic necessities, people in low and fixed income groups have also been hard hit by steadily rising prices for non-food items and services.

The cost of non-food items and services such as medical care, education and utilities pushed headline inflation to a nine-year high of 7.56 in June, according to data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. .

BBS data showed non-food inflation was 6.33 versus food inflation of 8.37 for the month.

Economists have blamed high fuel prices on the global market, an increase in demand in the post-Covid period and the Russian invasion of Ukraine for a rise in prices of non-food items, as Bangladesh is mainly a country dependent on imports for non-food items. and their raw materials.

They said some unscrupulous businessmen were taking advantage of the situation for windfall gain amid a lack of strict government oversight.

“Non-food item inflation has placed an additional burden on fixed-income and low-income groups whose purchasing power or real income has already declined due to rising food prices,” the official said. ex-Bangladesh Bank Chief Economist, Mustafa K Mujeri.

He said low and fixed income groups spent much of their income on food and the price remained high.

“The government should take strict measures and start monitoring the market so that no dishonest businessman can use the situation to make money,” he added.

Former chief economist at the World Bank’s office in Dhaka, Zahid Hussain, said the prices of non-food items had increased mainly due to an increase in demand in the domestic market after the post-covid period and price increases on the world market.

“The plight of urban fixed-income and middle-income groups will increase further in the coming days, as the government has recently increased taxes on refrigerators, laptops, cell phones, furniture and cosmetics,” a- he said, adding that these products are mainly used by middle-income city dwellers.

He said the government had taken only a handful of measures by providing subsidies to the energy and fertilizer sector to prevent a further rise in inflation.

“The government has taken no action to reduce prices,” he added.

A large number of fixed-income groups living in the capital have to pay a significant portion of their monthly income in rent.

“My house owner has increased the rent to Tk 13,000 from Tk 11,000 from June 1,” said Md Abul Khair, a non-governmental organization worker living in Azampur in the capital.

He said he had to lead a family of five including his wife, two daughters and a son with his monthly salary of around Tk 40,000.

“I manage my family expenses by taking loans from my relatives,” he added.

Bangladesh Consumers Association Chairman Ghulam Rahman has urged the government to prioritize inflation control over development activities to bring some relief to fixed income and low income groups. revenue.

“We did not see the government take fiscal measures in the budget to control inflation. The prices of many non-food items went up as we were importing inflation along with goods from other countries,” he said.

The Directorate General of Drug Administration has recently raised the prices of 19 generic drugs of 53 brands while the prices of some other drugs have been raised by the drug manufacturers as the government has no control over them.

Prices for essential medicines increased by 5% to almost double their previous prices.

The price of Paracetamol 500mg tablet has been increased from 0.70 Tk to 1.20 Tk, Metronidazole 200mg tablet to 1.00 Tk from 0.60 Tk and Amoxicillin 15ml vial BP to 35 Tk of 26.34 Tk.

Food and non-food prices continued to rise at a time when many people were trying to rebound from the Covid-induced economic hardships they faced in 2020 and 2021, those affected said.

Md Shoriful Islam, production manager at ready-to-wear garment factory Instyle Fashion, said he moved his family to his in-laws’ house in Barishal as he could not manage the family expenses by paying 15,000 Tk rent with his salary of 30,000 Tk.

Along with his regular expenses, Shoriful said he also spent Tk6,000 on his elderly mother.

“I moved my family to my in-laws house in Barishal before this Eid-ul-Fitr. It was getting difficult to support my family of five in Dhaka city,” he added.

“Now I live in a room adjacent to my factory and I pay Tk 5,000 in rent and I can send Tk 15,000 per month for my family,” he said.

He said he must have spent Tk 1000 to buy recent pants. A similar item cost him 600 Tk in the past.

With the onset of electricity rationing, many low-income people were forced to purchase electrical items like charging lamps and fans, but none of them were cheap. Ordinary electrical items like power strips, cables and distribution boards have also become more expensive.

A GFC fan recently sold for 2,800 Tk on the wholesale market now costs a buyer 3,500 Tk. The price of a multiple socket from the RFL company has increased from 350 to 550 Tk, and an AC/DC lamp from the Superstar company has increased to 550 Tk from 400 Tk in the last two months.

“The price of local and imported products has risen at the same time,” said SM Hafizur Rahman, owner of MH Electric Fair at Sundarban Square Market in the capital Fulbaria, adding that the prices of charger fans imported from China have risen to 5 000 Tk. of 3,900 Tk in just two days.

He said they import most of the products from China.

Prices for most tableware items offered for sale have increased in both wholesale and retail markets.

Md Mofizul Islam, owner of a tableware shop at Al-Amin tableware market in Fulbaria, said Shinepukur Ceramics Ltd had increased its products like plates, cups and dinnerware by 40% and that Nasir Glass Industries had raised the prices of glass items by 10% before Eid-ul-Fitr.

He said the prices for normal quality plates have increased from Tk 110 to Tk 135 and the price for glass has increased from Tk 30 to Tk 40.

Rita Begum, a housewife living in the capital’s Uttara, said her daughter’s school raised tuition fees to Tk 2,500 from Tk 1,900 after it reopened in late 2021. She started charging additional charges for different tests.

Sathi Ahsan, a housewife, said she had to pay Tk 200 to send a parcel to Dinajpur in June. The same parcel cost him 150 Tk in March.

Jahidul Islam, a bank clerk who earns 38,000 takas, said he had no choice but to cut spending on his children’s education.

“I stopped keeping private tutors for my daughters because they demanded extra money that I couldn’t afford,” he said.