Since the Awami League came to power in 2009, the price of water has been increased 14 times in the last 13 years. Dhaka WASA is not being able to supply quality water even though it has increased the price from time to time. Many people are buying water from the market. Consumers have complained about this over and over but to no avail.

In November last year, the government brushed away the objections of various quarters and increased the price of fuel oil on the pretext of price hike in the international market. The energy ministry had also proposed to increase the price of natural gas in January this year. The proposal was rejected by the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) on the grounds that it was not well-thought-out. It is learned that the ministry is preparing to increase the price in accordance with the rules.

When the government raises the price of essential utilities or is trying to increase it, the prices of almost all the essential commodities went up. Rice prices continue to rise during the peak season. However, the government says the country has record rice stocks. So why are the prices rising? Although there are speculations of manipulation of stockists and mill owners in this regard, there is no precedent of taking action against anyone.

Traders are increasing the price of edible oil in the name of international market. In January, the commerce minister said oil prices would not rise for the time being. On 6 February, the price went up again. In addition, the onion market has always been unstable. Prices of vegetables are usually lower in winter season. But this time the price of vegetables is also high.

There is no answer to the question as to why this situation has arisen in the market. The government cannot turn a blind eye to the matter whether the price increased due to manipulation or due to extortion in transport sector. First, the concerned authorities should intensify market surveillance so that no one can raise prices by creating artificial crisis in the market. Second, it should sell adequate products in the open market at low prices through its own channel. The small amount of products currently sold through TCB has not had any effect on the market.

In this situation, the government has to increase the sale of essential commodities in the open market. It is not enough to sell essentials in few urban areas, it is necessary to carry out the initiative in remote areas as well. We must also be vigilant so that no syndicate can destabilise the market anew during the Ramadan. The government should also refrain from raising the prices of gas, water and electricity. Otherwise, the life of people with limited income will become harder.

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