On soaring food price
Thursday, 10 July 2008

CG responsible to contain it

The Finance Adviser has once again ruled out responsibility to rein in the price spiral of food essentials. He argued that price hike depends on international prices, fiscal policy, monetary policy and so many things.' It is true that prices of food have increased dramatically on the international market in recent times and this undoubtedly has an impact on local prices. Moreover, rising cost of fuel has had an impact on overall prices. But the government has a responsibility to intervene to ease the pressure that the high prices are having on the lower-income groups. Aziz's statement signifies that the government is trying to shirk its responsibilities completely. What sounds worse still is that, the government has shown a tendency to blame businessmen and small farmers for the price hike. The Adivser cited rice hoarding at the farmers' level as one of the factors that made prospects for cooling down local market bleak. Given that there are no laws to prevent businessmen from collusion, the business quarters will seek to make profits if there is such a scope for them to do so. Small farmers, on the other hand, have traditionally stored much of their produce in order to ensure their own food security throughout the year. To be sincere,  the government, since its assumption of office, has not only failed to generate employment through public investment but have also, to make things worse, caused widespread unemployment through a number of arbitrary steps including hawker eviction, demolition of slums and shutdown of public enterprises. It has also failed to encourage private investment. The different estimates of rising poverty levels in Bangladesh tend to prove the government's apparent insensitivity in different aspects. But it is the responsibility of the incumbent caretaker-government to contain food prices in the market and generate employment opportunities.

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