Prices of essentials in Khulna remain far from stable despite ongoing drives and continue to be sold at inflated prices — leaving general consumers disgruntled.
Reports of unscrupulous practices among traders, such as hoarding stocks in warehouses, selling goods at exorbitant prices, and conducting business without the necessary licenses have also come to light.
The Ministry of Commerce had set fixed prices for essential commodities, including eggs at Tk 12, onions at Tk 64-65 per kg, potatoes at Tk 35-36 per kg, bottled soybean oil at Tk 169 per litre, and palm oil at Tk 124 per liter.
After a recent visit to several markets in Khulna city, including Boro Bazar, Sandhya Bazar, and Gallamari, this UNB correspondent found that essential items were not being sold at the prices set by the government.
Traders are saying that procuring goods at higher prices from wholesale markets and selling them at lower prices is not financially feasible for them.
Advocate Helal Hossain, who was shopping at Sandhya Bazar, criticized the authorities for failing to control the market, saying that general consumers suffer due to their incompetence.
"The government's inability to enforce pricing regulations is harming both farmers and consumers," he said.
"Furthermore, news of hilsa fish exports to India has destabilized the local fish market. We are calling for the government's strict intervention in controlling the market prices," he added.
Niyamul, another shopper, expressed his frustrations, saying, "The market is unthinkably expensive. Prices of potatoes, eggs, and onions are nowhere near the prices fixed by the government."
Another consumer, M Rahman, said he purchased potatoes for Tk 50 per kg, even though the government's fixed price is much lower.
"The rising costs of daily essentials is pushing low and middle-income individuals to their financial limits. From cooking oil to vegetables, prices have soared," he added.
Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, Khulna district's Deputy Director Mohammad Salim said, "Some unscrupulous traders are blatantly disregarding our actions. Once we leave, prices revert to their previous high levels. We are doing everything within our power to stabilize the market."
Khulna district Agricultural Marketing Officer Shahriar Akunji said, they have conducted multiple raids to deter the inflated prices.
"Though the government's fixed price for potato remains elusive, onion prices are slowly aligning with the fixed rate," he said.
He said that mobile courts and consumer rights enforcement operations have been ongoing.
However, unscrupulous traders persist in selling essential goods at elevated prices outside the city, exacerbating the ongoing market turmoil in Khulna, he added.