08/10/2022, 17.57
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Soaring fuel prices push up Bangladesh’s inflation rate

by Sumon Corraya

Transport costs and food prices are up. The poorest are giving up meat and fish. Study shows that more than two million people have dropped below the poverty line. Protests are held at gas stations.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – The price of petrol increased by 51.7 per cent in Bangladesh at midnight last Friday, the largest single jump ever recorded in the country, local media report, driving up the cost of transportation as well as the prices of all goods and services.

As a result, more and more people will find it hard to get three meals a day – even the middle classes are beginning to feel the pinch. Many are forced to give up meat and fish.

On average, retail prices are up by 5 to 15 taka (about 5 and 15 US cents), with rice costing no  less than 55 taka (US$ 0.58) per kilo, this in a country where the average monthly salary is around US$ 280.

For the senior vice president of the Bangladesh Rice Merchant Association Zakir Hossain, rising oil prices are to blame. “This will drive up transportation costs, but also production costs for farmers in the coming days.”

In the capital’s main markets (Karwan Bazar, Babubazar, Shyambazar and Joarsahar Bazar), the prices of staple foods are up.

Amjad Hossain, a poultry seller at Karwan Bazar, told AsiaNews that the price of chicken has risen by 20 taka (US$ 0,21) in the last three days due to higher transportation costs and the reduced supply of chicken on the market.

"Chicken is now sold at 170-180 taka per kg,” he explained, “while three days ago it cost 150-160 taka. Local chickens that used to sell for 530 taka now cost at least 550.”

This is forcing low-income people to cut costs by changing food. One of them is Mamunur Rashid, an office janitor in Dhaka.

“The prices of everyday goods have risen,” he said. “If I used to eat fish three times a week, now I only eat once.” At present, he can manage to buy meat only twice a month for his family of six.

Inflation and rising commodity prices have thrown into poverty more than two million people in Bangladesh, this according to a study released in June by the Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and the Building Resources Across Communities (BRAC), an NGO committed to fighting poverty. In 2019 more than 20 per cent of the population lived below the poverty line.

Recently, long queues have formed at gasoline stations. Several civil society groups organised protests at such locations against the rising cost of living.

Although Bangladesh's economy is booming, soaring energy and food prices have forced the country to borrow from international lenders, including the International Monetary Fund, to continue securing imports.

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