December 1, 2020, 1:32 am

Staff Correspondent

2020-10-22 13:57:46 BdST

Move to stabilise essential market

Different ministries, headed by the commerce ministry, will work together to make the essentials’ market stable by breaking syndicates and unholy cliques for the sake of the people, said commerce ministry officials.

An integrated initiative of the concerned ministries and departments to control the price of goods is now most needed. The Ministry of Commerce has already taken such an initiative, said Commerce Secretary Dr Md Jafar Uddin.

The government is relentlessly trying to bring relief to the daily commodity market as the prices of almost all products including onions, potatoes, and vegetables have gone up abnormally in the last few weeks.

As per its various initiatives, five ministries have decided to formulate and implement an integrated plan. The Commerce Minister hopes that if these initiatives are implemented, the commodity market will return to its normal situation.

According to the Commerce Ministry, the existing rules and regulations will be strictly enforced to control the prices of goods. If anyone tries to increase the price of a product unethically, they will not be given any concession.

Besides, import activities will be intensified. The government will provide all kinds of assistance in import activities to ensure the supply of consumer goods as per the demand.

It is learned that an emergency meeting is going to be called soon by the Commerce Ministry as part of an integrated initiative to reduce the prices of daily commodities. The ministry secretary and also the president of Prices Control Cell Jafar Uddin will initiate the meeting. Representatives of concerned ministries, departments, and directorates of the government will be present at the meeting. Strategies will be taken to bring down the prices of products like onion, rice, potato, sugar, and edible oil quickly.

The government has also adopted a detailed plan to increase domestic production. Strategies have been devised to dismantle syndicates of unscrupulous traders to protect consumer interests.

The activities of the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), will be further strengthened. It plans to continue selling products at subsidized prices throughout the year.

Price monitoring and forecasting cell of the Commerce Ministry is going to hold an emergency meeting soon on 16 daily commodities including rice, pulses, onions, edible oil, sugar, and vegetables to sell through TCB.

From commodities price observation, it was found that when the price of a product goes up, the concerned ministries blame each other. No ministry is ready to take responsibility for any product price hike. For example, the issue of rice is monitored by the Ministry of Food, just as the issue of vegetables, potatoes, and onions is the issue of the Ministry of Agriculture. The Ministry of Industries is responsible for products like sugar. But onions, rice, and sugar are again seen by the Commerce Ministry as essential commodities.

For this reason, the Prime Minister's Office has given special instructions to the five ministries of the government to take a concerted initiative to control the market price. The Ministries of Food, Commerce, Agriculture, Industry, and Finance have decided to adopt a uniform programme as per the guidelines.

Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzak said, "The price of potatoes does not seem to go down suddenly until new potatoes arrive. However, the country has sufficient stocks of potatoes compared to the demand. Even if potatoes are sold at the prices fixed by the government, farmers, cold storage owners, and wholesalers will benefit".

Besides, to reduce the price of onion, the emphasis has been laid on increasing imports and local production. Onion prices rose sharply in early September. Now the price of onion is coming down due to various initiatives of the government. Onions are being sold at Tk 85 to Tk 90 per kg. Besides, the prices of sugar and edible oil are going up.

On the other hand, new paddy will start sprouting in the next one month. If the price of rice does not come down in the meantime, imports may be opened up. In this case, the Food Ministry is thinking of withdrawing 25 percent import duty on rice imports.

Meanwhile, the government is expecting that vegetable prices will come down when winter vegetables arrive in the market.

For the last couple of days, vegetable prices have gone high due to floods and rains. But now the situation has changed.

A record amount of land has been cultivated in different districts of the country including North Bengal. By the end of October, the market will be full of winter vegetables.

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