Commodity prices drop in global market, why not at home

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

If commodity prices go up in the global market, there could be logic behind the price hike in the local market. But when prices of almost every commodity are on the decline in the global market, then prices in the local market going up or not decreasing at a rate in the global market, the matter is abnormal and alarming.  

Unfortunately neither our politics, economics, nor our market cares. There’s a monopolisation everywhere. Everyone is making extra profit, whenever and from wherever they can. And it’s the public who are paying the price.

A high powered taskforce to to monitor the prices and supply situation of essential commodities on the local market had a meeting at the commerce ministry recently. Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission presented a report about eight different daily commodities at the meeting. The commodities are wheat flour, sugar, soybean oil, palm oil, lentils, onions, garlic and ginger. The information and observations that came up during the meeting are not comfortable.

Analysing information and data of an entire year, the organisation has said that the price hike rate of some daily commodities in the local market is higher than that of the global market.

Then again, prices of some commodities did not reduce in the local market at the same rate as the global market.

Meanwhile in case of one or two items, when the price in the global market is decreasing they are moving upwards in the local market.

Government policymakers are using the Russia-Ukraine war and global market prices as an excuse behind the prices hike of daily commodities in the local market.

If that is the case, why don’t the local market prices come down as soon as the prices reduce in the global market? BTTC’s observation gave the answer to that as well.

They have blamed poor market management, lack of competition, the market not being monitored regularly and goods not being unloaded from the ports on time for this.

It has been alleged on behalf of the traders that commodity price hike in the domestic market is caused by the dollar crisis and almost 25 per cent depreciation of taka against the dollar.

Ministers of the government talk of 'syndicates' in the market behind price hike of daily commodities. But we never get to find out what’s the size and form of that 'syndicate'.

Recently, a state minister had also expressed grudge saying there are 'syndicates' also among the ministers.

The government has recently reduced the price of soybean and palm oil by Tk 10 and Tk 2 per litter respectively. Experts however have said that the global prices of these two items have dropped way lower than this.

The price of wheat in the international market fell by 35 per cent per tonne in a single year. Yet, the prices of a kilogram of packaged and lose flour has gone up by 25 and 13 per cent in the local market.

Then again commodity price also go up for the lack of coordination between different ministries.

Recently, when the commerce ministry sent the agriculture ministry a letter to allow import of onion, they decided upon importing after two weeks had passed.

In the meantime, the price of onion increased more than twice. The import has begun now, but the price did not drop much.

Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) chairman Ghulam Rahman has said that government’s policies and plans are in favour of the traders. Therefore, only a handful of people are reaping the benefits.

The government cannot harm majority of the people to benefit only a few. The government also has to reevaluate priorities in facing the dollar-crisis.

The government fails to provide dollars for the import of essential goods. Yet, the hard-earned foreign currency is spent in the name of foreign tours of the ministers and officials.

If the market is not controlled right now, the situation may spiral out of control.