Has govt nothing to do to control the market

Prothom Alo illustration

t an event on 'Bangladesh Marketing Day' this Friday, while answering queries from newsmen, planning minister MA Mannan said, "If we could see and catch the market syndicate, we could take action." He also explained about the trends and nature of the market in a rising economy.

Earlier, several ministers talked about the market syndicate. Some of them have expressed helplessness. Some of them have said to remain alert against the syndicate. Some also warned that there are chances of a crisis if the syndicate is caught.

According to a Prothom Alo report, prices of six commodities--potato, onion, egg, loose sugar, soybean and cooking gas were fixed, but could not be implemented. The consumers have to buy four commodities at prices 10 to 20 per cent higher than the price set by the government. Why was such a situation created? It needs to be found out whether there was a wrong policy or lack of coordination.

It is an unpardonable crime to create an artificial crisis by hoarding a commodity. The government should find out who has done that in the case of potatoes or eggs. The government has not taken any tangible steps in this regard. Whenever the price of a commodity goes up, mobile courts are activated. Small traders are fined while the big traders remain out of touch. It is unfortunate that the price of eggs has not decreased despite the government's steps to allow import. In this regard, allegations of small farm owners should be taken into consideration.

The traders certainly make profit. But that profit cannot be unbridled. They must run a business with some rules and regulations. In the countries where the government's supply system is strong, the traders in those countries cannot manipulate. In our country, the alternative supply system is very weak. Although the government supplies some items through TCB, the amount of the commodities is so little that it has no impact on the market. There was a time when there was a rationing system for the people of all walks of life in Bangladesh. As a result, they could buy some daily necessities at an affordable price set by the government. That has been stopped in the name of a free market economy.

According to the minister, the unseen and untouchable market syndicate controls the market in different strategies. Several big companies import food items from abroad and the government has no control on them. When these business people think that the government is dependent on them, they consider their own interest defying the interest of the people.

Another problem is the weak marketing system. Although the consumers buy items at a higher price, the producer or farmers don't get fair prices. Earlier, delay in transporting commodities and additional costs were shown as an excuse. The minister claims the government has brought about a revolution in road and train communication in the last one and half decade.

Despite that, the consumers buy commodities at prices twofold to threefold at what the producers sell. This is happening due to severe anarchy in the market management system. The third party is making the profit. Has the government nothing to do to resolve this?