Prices of essentials must be tamed
Tuesday, 19 August 2008

The chief Adviser Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed on Thursday while apprising the President of the steps taken by the government to stabilise the prices of essential commodities, said adequate supply of food would be ensured and market monitoring strengthened during the Ramzan. On the following day 21 BDR outlets in the country including 100 in the city resumed operation offering rice at taka 30 per kg and soybean oil at Tk. 110 per litre, while the OMS operation of rice by the food ministry will resume from August 20 and rice will be sold at Tk. 28 per kg. There is no explanation as to why there is such price discrepancy between the BDR outlets and OMS shops although both are run under government management. The commerce ministry has held a number of meetings recently with the businessmen to keep the prices 'normal'. Commerce Minister Hossain Zillur Rahman has said price of edible oil will not rise in Ramzan due to satisfactory stock position. Earlier, businessmen at a FBCCI meeting had also assured that price of oil will not be increased. To this end they have also promised to open fair price shops at the district headquarters. Well, but people want the price of rice, edible oil and other essentials to come down and not to be stable at the present record high rate. It is a mystery that when the price of a commodity rises in the international market the businessmen here promptly raise the price in local markets, although they had purchased the commodity at a lower price. But when the price goes down in international market local traders instead of reducing the price, follow a 'go slow' policy and start speaking of stabilising the market and arresting further price escalation. This exposes their evil design to block the fall of price and earn exorbitant profit by selling the commodities at unusually high price. According to press reports, following a fall in the price of edible oil in the international market, soyabean oil is selling there at the rate of Tk. 78 per litre and palm oil at Tk 64 per litre. But in Bangladesh soyabean is selling at Tk 112-120 per litre while palm oil at Tk 100-105 per litre. The reports alleged that the a syndicate of edible oil traders is not allowing the price of the item to come down. In the international market, price of rice stood at about 1000 dollars per ton two months ago, but it has come down to 525 dollars per ton early this month in Thailand which has increased export of the commodity to foreign countries. Vietnam has also resumed export of rice. But in spite of that the decline of rice price in Bangladesh is very negligible- only Tk. 2 to 3 per kg. It may be pointed out that due to inefficient handling of the matter, the price of rice had continued to rise despite bumper production of Boro this year. Besides, surprisingly the government has no plan to reduce the price of fuel oil right now although its price in the international market has dropped by 30 dollars from 143 dollars to 113.39 dollars per barrel. The government wants to make up the loss incurred by BPC at the cost of the suffering people. It is known to all that the rise in the price of fuel oil contributed largely to the spurt in the price of essentials as this sharply raised the transportation cost and if the fuel oil price is decreased the prices of essentials will automatically come down considerably. But, unfortunately, the government prefers retrieving the BPC to rescuing the people from the deep crisis caused by soaring cost of living. We are constrained to say that this government will go down in the country's history as the most unsuccessful one so far as the economic policy formulation and market management are concerned. It is due to its own miserable failure that during its 19-month tenure the prices of rice have soared by 70  to 76 (Fine variety) per cent, Atta by 35 per cent, flour by 50 per cent, soyabean by 68.57 per cent, Lentil by 61.76 per cent, onion by 100 per cent, green chilly 150 per cent and egg by 73.90 per cent. But to the surprise of all, the ruling leaders are trying to make the people believe that this government is doing a lot to check the price spiral. Against this backdrop, Time has come for the government to be transparent and stop befooling the people. In the name of market stabilization and bringing price to a 'tolerable level' the government is rather helping the businessmen to keep the price at the high level which is beyond the reach of the consumers. People do not want this, they want from the government concerted efforts, strict monitoring, tough measures against market manipulation and elimination of the syndication to bring down the prices of essentials.

Comments Add New
Write comment
  We don't publish your mail. See privacy policy.
Please input the anti-spam code that you can read in the image.