The traders and importers of essential commodities fear a further hike in market prices despite a number of measures taken by the government to contain the price spiral in the upcoming month of Ramadan.
The traders said that during Ramadan, the local markets will be significantly affected by the recent price hike of the petroleum products, higher dollar rates against local currency, the hoarding by the traders and importers.
"Though the government has reduced the import duties on some commodities, the impact of such a decision is very negligible against the price hike of petroleum products," said General Secretary of the Moulvi Bazar Babosayee Samity (MBBS) Golam Mowla.
When asked, he said the government has very limited mechanisms for stabilising the local commodities market in the open market policy.
Against such a backdrop, the government should give subsidy on import of some essential commodities and should monitor the markets strictly on a regular basis for the greater interest of the general consumers, he added.
The consumers, mid-level traders and importers are all hostages to the big importers of essential commodities, he said.
The Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) has taken some moves to tame the almost skyrocketing prices of essentials before the beginning and during the month of Ramadan.
As a part of its price controlling activities, the TCB has called all the traders concerned to contact with the officials to take buy-back import facilities from the TCB, said Deputy Secretary of the TCB Abul Hossain Mia.
He added that the decline of commodity prices depends on them as they control the local markets.
Another importer of sugar and edible oil Sher Mohammad said the import items of the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) should be distributed among the consumers through proper channels and at the right time.
The price stability of some essentials also depends on distribution policies of the items imported by the government, he added.
"The government should disseminate information on distribution of TCB-imported items and other measures taking by the government to help contain inflation of reducing prices through the mass media in a wide scale," Mohammad suggested.
He said the TCB has taken initiatives to sell some essential commodities including lentil, onion, edible oil and gram at reasonable prices with mobile mini-trucks in Dhaka, Rajshahi, Chittagong and Khulna before and during Ramadan to restore price stability.
The TCB has floated tender for importing 300 tonnes of 'Masur' lentil and 200 tonnes of onion, said Azharul Faiz, director (Import) of the TCB.
"We hope that the first consignments of essential commodities tendered by the TCB would arrive in the country, ahead of the Ramadan," Faiz said while talking to the FE Sunday.
The TCB officials expressed their hope that the prices of essentials would decline at least to some extent after the arrival of the consignments.
Faiz said if the government feels it is needed to import more essential commodities, then the TCB would float tender again, otherwise not.
On the other hand, the government has decided to sell rice among the poor and vulnerable people at Tk 4.0 per kg from the start of October.
In a television interview Sunday, Deputy Minister for Food and Disaster Management Asadul Habib Talukdar said in every Union at least 450 poor people will get this opportunity until the harvesting of the next Aman paddy.
Mohammad Ali, an importer said, the price of sugar has already registered an upward trend and the price of edible oil will also rise within the next few days.