From the head of government to many members of the cabinet have questioned the justification of increased prices of essential commodities. They have alerted people about syndicates and opportunists.
Still, prices of daily essentials including rice in the market are increasing unreasonably. This transpires that the government does not have proper control over the market. The market is not being monitored in the way it should be.
In a press conference on 17 August, commerce minister Tipu Munshi said, "Transport cost may increase by Tk 0.50 per kg due to increase in oil prices. But the price has increased by Tk 4. It is unreasonable. Most of the things in Bangladesh occurred unreasonably. Even though the ministers and bureaucrats may not see it that way, the people can feel it in their bones.
More worries, not only the prices of rice and edible oil are increasing, the prices of almost every essential are increasing. The price of vegetables produced in the country has also increased uncontrollably. When the price of edible oil increased in the international market, the traders here increased arbitrarily.
Again, when prices began to fall in the international market, traders were reluctant to reduce the increased prices in excuse of dollar crunch. Egg and broiler chicken prices also increased at an abnormal rate due to rise in transport cost and chicken feed price after the increase in fuel prices. Later the prices of these two products decreased slightly but did not return to the previous level. The prices of various fish including tilapia, pangas have also increased at an unusual rate.
According to Prothom Alo report on 21 August, the rice market has been unstable even though there is no shortage of supply. The price of rice has increased by four to five taka per kg in Kushtia and Naogaon, two major rice markets, after the increase in fuel oil prices. The millowners are blaming the increase for the price hike of paddy and fuel oil. The question is, how much has the transport cost affected the price of rice? Commerce minister said it is Tk 0.50 while Prothom Alo estimated Tk 0.70. So, what can be the reason to increase the price of rice by Tk four to five per kg?
The fact is everyone took the opportunity to cut the pockets of consumers which has been hinted by the commerce minister. Earlier, the prime minister also said that the price of products cannot increase so much because of the increase in the fuel oil price.
Who is responsible for bringing down this abnormal increase in the price of rice to normal? Of course the government. If the government knows that there is manipulation by syndicates behind it, why it is not taking any step?
To bring the prices of products within the reach of consumers, the government must take strict action against unscrupulous business syndicates. Operating mobile courts sporadically and collecting some fines will not yield any results. Monitoring should be carried on regularly.
On the other hand, the government has undertaken the programme of providing some products at low cost to 10 million families through family card. If it is fully implemented, it will bring some positive impact on the market.