Living costs in Dhaka up by 6pc in 2018

The costs of living increased by 6 per cent in Dhaka in 2018 as the prices of rice, vegetables, clothes and other essentials went up, according to the annual report of Consumers Association of Bangladesh released on Saturday.
The association made the report based on data it collected from 15 retail markets in the capital and various service providing agencies on 114 food items, 22 other essentials and 14 utility services.
Report showed that the prices of rice increased by 8.91per cent on average and the vegetables prices increased by 9.38 per cent in 2018.
It showed that the increase in prices of soaps were highest 20 per cent in 2018 while prices of sari increased by 6.59 per cent, cloths by 10.64 per cent and coconut oil increased by 7.86 per cent.
In 2018, prices of fish increased by 13.50 per cent, liquid milk by 10.33 per cent, spices by 8 per cent and eggs by 7.71 per cent on average.
According to the report, rent of house (with two rooms) increased by 5.5 per cent.
The report also showed that the prices of red lentil, garlic, green chilli and sugar decreased in 2018.
‘The prices of essentials were steady in 2018 and the prices of some items including rice decreased at the end of the year,’ association president Ghulam Rahman said while presenting the report at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity.
He said that the increase in cost of living by 6 per cent was bearable as the income of the people increased more than 6 per cent in 2018.
The report showed that gas and electricity tariffs and transport fare did not rise in 2018.
It said that consumers were forced to bear the high price of electricity as the government did not adjust the fuel prices in line with the international market.
Improvement of public transport in 2018 was not remarkable, health sector expanded in the year but the quality of service was questionable, the report said.
It said that depositors and small borrowers in banks were facing trouble because of rising defaulted loans and corruption in banking sector.
‘Although Bangladesh follows the principle of free market economy for past couple of decades, the country imposed high duty on imports in the name of the protection of local industry and our consumers have been forced to pay more, Ghulam Rahman said.
Citing a recent Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh study, he said that due to the high import duty, the additional expenditure of Bangladeshi consumers was $14.22 billion in 2017-18 financial year.
The association proposed formation of a consumer affairs ministry to keep the supply and prices of essentials stable.
It also recommended that the government should repeal the Quick Enhancement of Electricity and Energy Supply (Special Provisions) Act 2010 to ensure transparency, accountability and competition in the sector.
It urged the government to ensure equal distribution of resources and to take initiative to create massive employment.
Energy adviser to the association M Shamsul Alam said that the cost of living should not have increased in 2018 as gas and electricity tariffs and transport fare did not in the year but it happened because of price hike of essentials.

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