Cost of living up by 6.8pc in the capital
The cost of living in Dhaka shot up by 6.8 percent in 2020 mainly because of the rising prices of daily essentials amid the pandemic, according to a report by the Consumers Association of Bangladesh.
Besides, the prices of different goods and services increased by 6.31 percent in the capital last year, it said.
CAB President Ghulam Rahman announced the findings of the report at a virtual press conference yesterday.
Last year's jump in living expenses was the highest in three years, he said.
As the cost of living increased, the income of lower- and lower-middle class people drastically fell due to the economic fallout from the pandemic, he said, adding that this has affected their living standards.
The CAB report was prepared mainly on the basis of information collected at 15 retail markets in the capital.
The prices of 114 food items, 22 consumer products, and 14 services were taken into account.
And the living cost has been calculated based on the weight of the products or services that are in the consumer's basket in comparison with the total expenditure of a family, it said.
Education, healthcare and commuting expenses were not accounted for in the report.
Compared to 2019, the price of rice increased by 20 percent on an average in 2020.
The prices of each kg of coarse rice varieties, Parija and Swarna, have increased by 27.34 percent, Paijam rice by 25.56 percent, BR8 and BR11 rice by 20.8 percent, Miniket by 14.94 percent, Nazirshail by 14.33 percent and the aromatic ones by 7.20 per cent.
The price of a kg of flour has increased by 5.28 percent and the domestic and imported pulses by 14.17 percent. Spices have become costlier by 24.6 percent, vegetables by 9.8 percent.
The rent of lower- and lower-middle class houses have increased by 5.35 percent.
Besides, the price of each 1,000 litres of WASA water has increased by 25 percent and the average cost of electricity increased by 6.05 percent while the price of commercial electricity went up by 4.81 percent.
CAB said rice production per acre in Bangladesh is still lower than rice exporting countries like Vietnam and Thailand.
Increasing productivity and reducing the cost of production will improve the financial condition of the farmers and keep rice prices affordable.
Ghulam Rahman said the government subsidies in the power sector are mainly spent on private power plants that remain idle. This benefits the power plant owners, not the consumers.
There are allegations of irregularities in the management of funds by the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC).
The BERC created funds for gas and power development by charging additional sums from the consumers.
The comptroller and auditor general should immediately arrange a special audit of the management of the funds, he added.