The Consumers Association of Bangladesh, or CAB, says the cost of living in Dhaka, in terms of retail goods and services, has increased less than in previous years.
The private organisation released a report on the cost of living, not accounting for the cost of education, medical care or transport, at a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity on Saturday.
The report includes information on 114 food products from 15 retail markets, 22 regularly used products and 14 service providers, said CAB Chairman Golam Rahman.
“The cost of living rose 6 percent in 2018. Commodity prices and service increased in price by 5.19 percent.”
“In 2017 the cost of living had increased 8.44 percent and the price of commodities and services had increased 7.17 percent.”
This means that there was a 2.44 percentage point decrease in the rate at which the cost of living rose.
CAB calculated this cost of living by comparing the ‘basket’ of goods and services purchased by consumers and comparing them to the total cost of the family’s basket according to weight.
Although most Bangladeshis lived in rural areas, the organisation did not have sufficient capacity to calculate their total cost of living, the CAB chairman said.
“However, this report will paint a partial picture of the situation in the city.”
According to the CAB report, the price of most necessities was largely stable in 2018.
THE PRICES THAT ROSE IN 2018
According to the CAB report, soap prices rose the most in 2018 when compared to the previous year by a whopping 20 percent. Rice prices rose an average of 8.91 percent, fish 13.50 percent, vegetables 9.38 percent, betel leaves 7.18 percent and milk 13.33 percent.
THE PRICES THAT FELL IN 2018
Compared to 2017, the price of pulse, salt, spices and sugar fell in 2018. Domestic mushur pulse fell 12.43 percent, imported mushur pulse fell 10.84 percent, whole chickpeas fell 3.37 percent, domestic gar fell 20.53 percent and imported garlic fell 32.37 percent.
The cost of edible oil, powdered milk, gas, electricity, fuel and rail fare was largely unchanged.
Asked whether the price hikes were reasonable, Rahman said that the impact of these prices depended on the individual. “If people’s income did not increase in line with inflation it would cause problems,” he said.
“We must focus on increasing income. If incomes increase in line with the cost, then it will be fine.”
CAB’s Energy Adviser Prof Shamsul Alam said consumers paid Tk 1.14 trillion in import duties in the past year, which is much higher than in neighbouring countries. He called for a reduction in the tariff rate.
A 25.64 percent tariff was imposed on imports to Bangladesh in 2017. The average tariff rate in Southeast Asia in 2016 was 4.74 percent. The average for South Asia was 12.19 percent.
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