Control the rice mill owners

Rice is the main source of nutrition for most of the country's poor. A huge number of workers get the required starch and protein from rice, too. This is why rice is called the 'staple food' for us, and also the reason why the government always tries to keep the price within the reach of the poor. But, it is not possible for the government to fix the price in our markets as they run under the open market economy. That does not mean the government should not have any supervision over the rice market. The rise and fall of the rice price is normal according to the local and international market. But the ministry concerned and authorities must take measures when the price rises without any logical reasons. This is a part of their responsibility.

The price of rice increased all on a sudden before the 11th parliamentary elections. A hike of price by Tk 2 to 3 in the retail market is not a simple issue. This has put financial strain on the lower class and lower middle class families. But, there are no logical reasons for this increase. The monitoring cell of Bangladesh Tariff Commission (BTC) said in a report that rice production was around 2.5 million tonnes more in 2017-18 fiscal than the preceding year. In the same year more than 4.2 million tonnes of rice were imported. The price reduced by $40 in each tonne between January and December 2018. TCB concludes there were no logical reasons for the price hike.

What is the reason then? Who is responsible?

Several of the rice traders said the rice factory owners had increased the price. This is a much iterated allegation that a number of big factory owners control the rice market. The ministers of food and commerce sat with the factory owners and rice traders on 10 January where the later promised to decrease the price. This means, the price is not connected to the market rather to their wishes. Following the pledge, the big factory owners have decreased the price by only Tk 1 per Kg, which hardly has any impact in the market. People still have to pay Tk 3-4 more per one Kg rice in the open market.

Such activity for making illogical profits cannot be allowed. Government interference is a must now. This crisis has been being repeated for years. For a permanent solution supervision in the market is essential along with prompt measures should the price goes high. The offenders must be prosecuted as well.