Fixed price of commodities, give consumers some relief

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

The shop owners’ association has labeled government’s ‘rational’ commodity price as irrational and imaginary. Neither state minister of commerce Ahsanul Islam nor any other government representative has responded to this.

However, the message state minister of commerce Ahsanul Islam had given two days before the press conference of the shop owners’ association seemed flexible. He said that arrangements should be made to sell commodities at fixed price through coordination, not by pressure.

Who will bell the cat? Who will work on the coordination, the state minister spoke of? Will it be the ministry of commerce, the department of agricultural marketing which fixes the prices or some other integrated agency?

According to Prothom Alo, on 15 March the department of agricultural marketing fixed the prices of 29 commodities to control the rising prices of commodities during Ramadan.

Visiting the market after a week it was found that the commodities are not being sold at those rates in the market. However in the past week, while the prices of some items have decreased in the retail market, the prices of some have rather increased compared to before.

Visiting capital’s Shewrapara, Taltola and Mohammadpur Krishi Market and talking to buyers as well as sellers on Thursday, it was learned that prices of potatoes, garlics, cumin and rice have increased within a week.

In the same time, the prices of onions, broiler chicken, lentils and eggs have decreased though. Apart from this, the prices of several vegetables have decreased as well. Though the prices of these items have decreased, they are still higher that the ‘rational’ price announced by the government.

Alongside the fixed items, the price hike of rice in the last few days has created even more difficulties for the poor and limited income people. While vegetables, fish or eggs can be bought in smaller quantities to meet the lacking, it’s not possible in the case of rice. People have to buy a certain amount of rice no matter what.

The shop owners’ association has advised the government to supply commodities under its own management without interfering into the free market economy.

On the other hand, the state minister of commerce said that arrangements will be made to sell commodities at the fixed price through coordination and not by applying pressure. Who will the consumers believe?

Almost all the items, the prices of which have been fixed by the government are produced inside the country. In that case, the costs of production, transportation or marketing are not unknown to the government.

According to reports of different newspapers, the prices of commodities increase a lot as soon as they change hands. That’s where the question of marketing system comes in. When the middlemen devour all the profits, the consumers and the producers both bear the brunt. In that case, monitoring is required.

The advice the shop owners’ association has given to the government about increasing supply of commodities under alternative arrangements, cannot be ignored.

Under its own management, the government has to increase the supply of commodities that are seeing a price hike from among and outside of the list of items with prices fixed by the government. Items that are marketed through TCB now are extremely insufficient and are failing to make any impact on the market.

The government must keep in mind that marketing is a science. And they have to move forward following the formulas of science indeed. Applying force in this matter can result in the opposite.

The government had spoken of putting consumers at ease during Ramadan. But that has turned into the reason of discomfort. Did the department of agricultural marketing talked to everyone concerned before fixing the prices? If they did, this isn’t supposed to happen.

Many have defined the step of fixing the prices of 29 commodities a show-off move. The government has to prove that it’s not just for show by making arrangements of selling the commodities at the fixed price. The month of Ramadan has almost halfway through, whatever needs to be done should be done right now.

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