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28 March, 2020 01:34:25 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 28 March, 2020 11:52:40 AM

Prices of essentials stable

Earnings of low-income group fall
Staff Reporter, Dhaka
Prices of essentials stable

Prices of daily essential commodities nosedived this week as Dhaka got deserted, with people leaving the city for their homes in the countryside, amid the coronavirus outbreak. The government, on March 24, declared general holidays from March 26 to April 4 across the country as a precaution for the COVID-19 pandemic. It has announced to help commoners during this period. The Army was called out to assist the civil administration in getting a better handle on the situation.

Aside from a few large markets, most of the capital kitchen’s markets were closed. There are a good number of vegetable vans roaming the city. However, low-income people, especially daily earners, have been hit hard due to the low presence of people across the city. Talking to The Independent, suffers like day labourers, rickshaw-pullers, small shop owners, hawkers, beggars, and other low-income people said that they have been going through a tough time amid decline in income and prices of essential items.

Price of essentials:

Prices of onion, ginger, garlic, potatoes have further fallen, while the prices of rice, pulses, sugar, loose edible oil, and some spices are almost unchanged like last week, amid panic buying. Visiting the Shantinagar kitchen market in the capital, The Independent found that prices of daily commodities are within the reach of common people, but not for day labourers.

However, shoppers buying items did not pay heed when this reporter tried to remind them of their duty to abide by the social distancing advice. Prices of onion and garlic have decreased beyond the buyers’ imagination. At wholesale markets, the local onion was sold for Tk. 35-45 per kg, while the Myanmar variety went for Tk. 45- 50 per kg, Chinese onions Tk. 45-50 per kg, Pakistani ones Tk. 40–50 per kg, and Egyptian onions Tk. 55–60 per kg. Also in decline is the price of garlic—it dropped by Tk. 20-30 per kg in the last two days—owing to increased supply of the local variety in the markets. Imported garlic was selling for Tk. 120-130 per kg yesterday, down from the earlier range of Tk. 130-150, while local varieties were going for Tk. 80–100 per kg. Sugar prices shot up to Tk. 70-75 a kg, potato Tk. 18 a kg depending on the variety, garlic Tk. 130-180 a kg, ginger Tk. 140-180 a kg, pulses like lentil Tk. 80-90 a kg (coarse) and Tk. 120-140 (finer) a kg in the market in the last seven days.

Prices of vegetables have also declined

The prices of gourd, bitter gourd, cucumber, beans remained stable. Bitter gourd is being sold for Tk. 80 per kg. Medium-sized gourd is being sold for Tk. 50 apiece. Last week, the price of cucumber was Tk. 30-35 a kg, but now it is Tk. 20-25 kg. Papaya was selling for Tk. 30-40 a kg. Bean was being sold for Tk. 30-40. Carrots were being sold for Tk. 20-30 a kg, which was Tk. 30-40 last week. Moreover, radish and raw chillies are on the list of low price.

All types of leafy vegetables also witnessed a decline in prices, as they were selling for Tk. 15-20 a bunch. Spinach was being sold for Tk. 10. Red and green leafy vegetables were being sold at the same price. Bottle gourd was available at Tk. 20-30. Prices of coarse rice have increased by 25-31 per cent during the period, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).

Coarse rice Swarna and BR-11 varieties were selling for Tk. 45-50 a kg in the city retail yesterday.

Sufferings of day labourers

Low-income people have demanded the introduction of a food-friendly programme in the capital, considering their hardship due to financial crisis. Khairul, a rickshaw-puller of Mouchak-Malibagh in the city, told The Independent that he earned only Tk. 75 till 2pm on the day, against Tk. 450-500 in normal times. He said the income declined dramatically, but the prices of rice and other essentials went up.

“If this situation continues for the next few days, my four-member family will have to face starvation,” he added.

Masum, helper of a human hauler (known as leguna), said they got no passengers in the last two days. He said the owners of the legunas have already stopped service amid the outbreak of the coronavirus.  He also said his earnings had halved during the last few days. “How will we stay in Dhaka? We would have left Dhaka if buses were available,” said Arzu Mia, another rickshaw-puller in Shantinagar.

Arzu Mia pleaded with this correspondent to get on his rickshaw as he did not get a rider for almost three hours. He asked for only Tk. 15 to Siddheswari from Shantinagar Bazar, a ride that usually costs Tk. 30-35. Palsh Mahamud, executive director of Concern Consumer Society (CCS), told The Independent that low-income people have been suffering doubly as their income had declined and at the same time prices of essentials had fallen significantly. The authorities should make it clear how it could help the commoners during this tough time, he said, adding that the market monitoring should be continued to protect the interests of consumers. According to sources, selling rice at Tk. 10 per kg has started this month and will continue till April.







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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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