Prices of essentials across the country are soaring day by day without any respite for consumers. The abnormal price hike of daily necessaries hits worst the people from the lower rung of the social ladder. The brunt of spiralling prices of essentials and inflated costs of living are being borne by millions in the low- and fixed-income group.
The poor and the middle class people as well want the prices to come down immediately. This is because, in the truest sense of the term, they seek to live a tolerable life, if not a better one. But their hope is being dashed by the ongoing market behaviour.
As their income has not increased pro rata, the gap between income and expenditure has widened so much so that the consumers cannot keep pace with the prices hike. This year the monthly cost of a basket of necessary commodities for a small family has shot up to an extent that the commoners cannot bear.
As a result, at the risk of malnutrition of family members, most of the fixed income bracket people have to drastically ration their foodstuff. Prices of daily necessary commodities have now gone beyond the purchasing power of the masses. Especially the prices of onion have now gone into a tailspin.
Moreover, the soaring prices of vegetables have added to financial constraints of the common buyers, adding fuel to fire. Though the winter vegetables are in the market, the prices of all of them are now beyond the reach of the commoners.
In the meantime, rice market too is showing a volatile tendency. The rice market prices have registered a rise in recent weeks. The galloping price of onion created a severe panic among people who fear sudden surge in rice price.
However, to abate fears of people, the food ministry said there should not be any problem over rice price. The ministry said the stocks of rice are still high. So, it is confident, there should be no crisis in the rice market, unlike the onion prices.
The government says that market monitoring is being done regularly but the purchasers want more fruitful monitoring in the market of daily necessities. Let's hope, there will be no further hike in rice prices and the already high prices of other essentials together with rice will come soon down to the normal level.
But what is more worrying for consumers is that there may be a move for fresh increase in electricity tariff. This will push commodity prices further up. The consumers are already paying through the nose due to exorbitant prices of essentials. Any further increase in prices of daily necessaries will squeeze the purchasing capability of common consumers. In consequence, living standard of the commoners will fall significantly.
The authorities concerned have to control the intolerable and galloping market prices of daily necessities. It is essential that by strong market monitoring they must stop artificial price hike by a section of traders. Otherwise, many of the achievements of the government are likely to go in vain.
Sarwar Md. Saifullah The writer is a retired Professor of Economics and Vice Principal at Cumilla Women's Government College, Cumilla.