Stocks sufficient, no shortage of essential commodities in Ramadan

The country would not face any shortage of essential commodities in the coming fasting month of Ramadan as the timely measures of the government have helped increase the imports of consumer goods significantly stabilizing the market with sufficient supply.

Also the adequate imports of commodities have helped wholesalers build sizable stocks ahead of the Ramadan, thanks to the government for easing opening letters of credit (LCs) for essential commodities to keep their prices at a tolerable level during the Ramadan beginning in the last part of March.

Ahead of Ramadan every year, the government takes steps to keep the commodity market stable as prices of some commodities such as oil, sugar, chickpeas, onions and dates go up with a rise in their demand during the fasting month.

"Import of goods declined slightly a few months ago, but it has now bounced back. Ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, essential products against LCs opened recently have started coming to the market," said a wholesaler of the country's largest Khatunganj market.

Talking to BSS, several wholesales of Khatunganj said prices of some essential products have decreased due to higher imports. In the last one week, the price of palm oil has decreased by Tk 40 per maund and now it is being sold at Tk 4, 660 while the price of soybean oil has decreased by Tk 30 per maund to Tk 6, 360.

Indian onion is selling at Tk 28 per kg down by Tk 6, Chinese garlic is selling at Tk 150 per kg down by Tk 10 per kg while Chinese ginger is selling at Tk 220 per kg lower by Tk 10 per kg.

The price of lentil has reduced by Tk 2 per kg and is now being sold at Tk 90, Australian chickpeas are now selling at Tk 72 per kg, down by Tk 4 and Indian chickpeas are selling at Tk 80 per kg, down by Tk 5.

The price of peas has declined by Tk 3 per kg and is being sold at Tk 61, cardamom is now being sold at Tk 1,400 per kg down by Tk 20, price of clove has reduced by Tk 25 to Tk 1,340 per kg, cumin has reduced by Tk 30 per kg and is being sold at Tk 570.

Talking to BSS, leaders of Chaktai-Khatunganj Artaddar General Traders Welfare Association said supply of essential commodities in the market has started increasing. There is also a huge amount of consumer goods in Chittagong port and supply lines, they added.

"Traders are well prepared on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan. As the prices of most of the products are in downward trend in the wholesale market, it will have a positive effect on retail level in the country," said Alamgir Parvez, a large wholesaler in Chaktai-Khatunganj.

However, the international sugar market is on the upswing, he said, adding that so, sugar may cause some discomfort but if the government reduces the duty, the price of sugar will remain normal.

Parvez said if the government sets the prices in line with the international market by forming a committee incorporating business leaders, no party will get an opportunity to create unnecessary or purposeful instability in the market.

Mahabubul Alam, president of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), told BSS that many essential products against LCs opened targeting Ramadan have already reached the port and the market. As a result, the prices of some products in the market have decreased slightly, he said, adding that with a rise in supply, the prices of goods will fall further.

"If the supply chain is in place, the market will be normal," he added.

Alam said CCCI will try its best to keep the market normal during the Ramadan. As part of its move, CCCI already had a meeting with the Metropolitan Shop Owners' Association where presidents and general secretaries of 68 markets of Chittagong city were present in this meeting.

"We will sit again with them early of March so that no unscrupulous circle can increase the prices of products through creating artificial crisis," he added.

The CCCI president said only 20 percent of imports are now under the control of Chittagong based businesspeople and the rest is under the control of businessmen established in Dhaka. Even though the goods are imported through Chittagong port, it goes directly from the port to Dhaka or other parts of the country, he said, adding that most of the oil and sugar mills are now in Dhaka. Chittagong has only S Alam and TK Group mills, he said.

"I think that a high-level national co-ordination meeting with all stakeholders, including mill owners, importers and wholesalers can effectively help the government keep the prices of essential products stable," Alam added.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)