Price capping of 29 commodities: 26 items selling at higher prices

Though the government capped the prices of 29 food items a week ago, traders are still selling 26 of those at higher rates than fixed.

Only eggs, katla fish and onions are sold at prices set by the Department of Agricultural Marketing on March 15.

The department capped the price of broiler chicken at Tk 175.30 and the variety known as Sonali at Tk 262.

But a kg of broiler chicken costs Tk 210-220 and Sonali Tk 320-330 at kitchen markets in the capital’s Karwan Bazar, Kochukhet, Ibrahimpur and Shewrapara.

Each kg of different varieties of pulses, including red lentils, moong, and maskalai, cost Tk 5-35 more than the limit.

Katla fish weighing less than 2kg are sold for around Tk 350 per kg, an egg for Tk 10-11, and local onions at Tk 60-70 per kg.

The authority limited the prices of katla fish at Tk 353 a kg, egg Tk 10.49, and local onions at Tk 65.40 a kg.

The prices of cabbage, cauliflower, bean, brinjal, green chilli, tomatoes, and pumpkin fell by Tk 5 to 20 a kg last week, but these vegetables are still sold at higher prices.

Shopkeepers at the aforesaid kitchen markets say as they buy the products at higher prices and there is no way they can run a business if they abide by the price cap.

At Karwan Bazar yesterday, several shopkeepers were seen arguing with government agencies monitoring the market.

“What’s the point of limiting commodity prices if they cannot enforce it? It is nothing but eyewash,” said Tomal Ahmed, who was buying groceries in Karwan Bazar.

Sabuj Sheikh, a wholesale trader of onions, said locally grown onions were sold at reduced prices because farmers were harvesting new onions.

Several traders said vegetables became cheaper because the demand is low in the month of Ramadan.

Gofran, owner of a grocery store at Karwan Bazar, said the government officials were visiting the markets only occasionally.

On September 14 last year, the government fixed the prices of eggs, onions and potatoes, but even raids by different government agencies failed to enforce the price caps.

People from limited- and low-income families are struggling to make ends meet due to the runaway prices of essentials.

Ghulam Rahman, president of Consumers Association of Bangladesh, said while putting price caps on agricultural products the government should keep in mind that farmers should not have to count losses.

Besides, the government must implement proper market monitoring so that vested groups cannot manipulate the market, he added.

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