According to the recent findings of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), the living cost in Dhaka has increased by 6.5 percent in 2019 due to the rising prices of essential commodities and services. And the trend may continue this year because, according to CAB, over the last couple of weeks, consumers have been paying more to buy daily essentials, such as edible oil, onions, chicken, powder milk, sugar, fruit and vegetables, etc., and there is no sign that the prices of these items will come down anytime soon. Besides, from the first day of 2020, the price of liquefied petroleum gas cylinder has increased and the electricity tariff is in the process of being hiked. What is more, the house rent in the city has also increased, leaving mostly the mid and low-income people in distress.
Currently, prices of some vegetables are so high that people in the low-income bracket cannot even think about buying those. Although the supply of these items is now adequate in city markets, the prices are not coming down. Apparently, the government’s failure to contain the prices of the essential items, mostly onions, have encouraged traders to indiscriminately increase prices of other products. Still, one kg of onion is selling at Tk 170-180 in the local shops. Questions can also be raised about the increase in the price of LPG for the second time within three months.
Needless to say, the high costs of the essential commodities and services have been affecting the living standard of city residents, since their income has not increased in line with the high cost of living. In order to give some respite to city dwellers, the government should take immediate measures to contain the price spiral of essentials. Those who are trying to create volatility in the market by unnecessarily increasing the prices should be identified and brought to justice. We would also like to see judicious decisions from the government when it comes to increasing the prices of gas and electricity. Last but not the least, for checking the spiralling house rent in the city, the House Rent Control Act 1991 should be fully enforced.