2020-02-10 17:51:58 BdST

Intel agency warns against Ramadan price hike


An intelligence agency has sounded the alarm over the possible price hike of essential commodities during the holy month of Ramadan.

"It will be difficult to control the commodity market during this Ramadan if the government does not rein in the prevailing price hike of essential items including rice, onion, edible oil and spices," according to a report of Special Branch (SB) of Police.

To avert such a market situation, the report also suggested the state agencies concerned take urgent measures to cool down the heated market.

The intelligence agency in its report said it will be tough to control the prices of key kitchen goods during the upcoming fasting month if the government fails to contain the upward trend in essential items.

The report also suggested making necessary efforts to ensure adequate stock and import of essential goods as per the country's demand.

It recommended strengthening the activities of Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) and importing essential items with providing government subsidy, if needed, to maintain price stability.

The SB has suggested the commerce ministry monitor the market regularly and take stern action against hoarders and profiteers.

They also advised the commerce ministry to keep close watch on importers, wholesalers and retail traders so that they cannot increase the prices of essential goods by spreading propaganda.

The special branch under the Bangladesh Police has urged the authority concerned to give necessary instructions to scheduled banks to help genuine importers.

The prices of key essentials like sugar, onion, edible oil and vegetables showed an uptrend despite having sufficient supplies in the market.

Prices of essential items including rice, pulses and spices are witnessing a hike in the international market following the outbreak of the coronavirus and massive fire in Australia.

On the other hand, unscrupulous traders also stopped importing goods due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The government has already asked its market monitoring agencies to intensify vigilance so that none can raise commodity prices in the name of short supply, linked to China's coronavirus epidemic.

On Friday last, the ministry of commerce convened an emergency meeting and gave the instructions to the TCB, Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP), and its own market monitoring teams.

The meeting, chaired by commerce secretary Dr. Md Jafar Uddin, asked the officials to remain alert so that no businessmen can take advantage of undue profits.

A meeting source said holy Ramadan will start in late April when commodity prices usually see a significant rise.

The meeting also asked all concerned to take appropriate steps so that price hike can be averted in the holy month.

Prices of rice, pulses, sugar, onion, garlic, edible oil, spices and essential items are seeing upward trend in the market.

Prices of rice increased by Tk 3-8, pulses by Tk 10-15, onion by Tk 40-50, garlic by Tk 40-50, edible oil by Tk 8-10 and sugar by Tk 3-4 per kg in last ten days from late January to early February, according to the report.

When contacted, a senior official of the commerce ministry said¸ "The market monitoring teams have been reinforced. We've asked them to be more careful about their duties throughout the year especially during Ramadan."

"We've have taken required move to ensure sufficient stock of essential items to fulfil the demand during Ramadan," he added.

The state-owned TCB will commence selling essentials at subsidized rates ahead of the fasting month across the country. It has been selling onion at subsidized rate.

An expert suggested the commerce ministry should remain alert against manipulators as well as racketeers.

The commerce ministry several times sat with traders to review the supply, stock and prices of essential items. It will sit again with traders if needed.

In the meetings, traders said they have enough stock of commodities like gram, onion, sugar, edible oil and lentils. The prices of these items will remain stable during Ramadan, they added.

Key spices and fish became pricier last week. Spices including garlic, ginger, turmeric, red chilli powder, and coriander seed witnessed a spiral in a week, according to trading sources.

TCB recorded a 4.0 per cent-27 percent surge in different spice prices in a week.

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