- Govt to ensure product availability in the market through coordinated initiative
- Keeping stock, and supply situations normally emphasized
- Commerce Ministry to sit with stakeholders to ensure an uninterrupted supply chain
Throughout the last year, the people of the country have been deeply affected by the abnormal price hike of daily essentials. There was not a single week when the issue was not discussed in the mass media as the price of different essential commodities increased one after another. At times, the price of the same commodity (for example, onion) increased with a gap of 2/3 months. No sooner had the government succeeded in controlling the price of a daily essential after an unusual hike, than the price of another essential increased abnormally, apparently due to the market manipulation of a vested group of traders.
You can also read: Economic challenges for the new government
The Awami League has formed a new government, for the fourth consecutive term, after winning the 12th Jatiya Sangsad elections. Keeping the market stable during the upcoming Ramadan is one of the major challenges the newly formed government will have to face at the very beginning. The government’s state minister has taken charge of the commerce ministry at a difficult time as the market is already volatile due to the increase in commodity prices throughout the last year. His responsibility is now to put a halt to the malpractice of monopoly pricing in the country’s kitchen markets.
The People desire to see that the government will bring back the relief of consumers hitting out the market syndicates.
Present market situation
The country witnessed record production of Aaman Paddy in 2023. Despite having no shortage of supply, the price of rice is rising in the market. In the last 4-5 days, the price has increased by Tk3-5 per kg. Usually, the price of rice goes up every year before the arrival of new paddy in the market. But this time, the price increased all of a sudden without any visible or valid reason, because the new rice had reached the market more than a month ago.
The price of beef and broiler chicken has also increased. The price of vegetables has not decreased even during the peak season. Although there is no specific reason for the price increase, traders are giving various lame excuses.
Plans of the state minister for commerce
The government has continued its efforts to keep the prices of daily essentials at a tolerable level, although it is not possible to keep the prices at the desired level all the time due to the global context.
“All kinds of measures will be taken to control the market. Our election manifesto mentioned commodity price control as a top most priority. I will go to the ministry on Sunday to evaluate what steps have been taken so far in this regard,” Ahsanul Islam Titu, state minister for commerce, told the media after taking oath on Thursday.
“Ramadan is going to start in March. Only sixty days’ time is short. However, we will leave no stone unturned to keep the market stable.”– Ahsanul Islam Titu, state minister for commerce
Commenting on the manipulation of syndicates ahead of the upcoming Ramadan, the state minister said, “If there is a syndicate in the market, we will tackle it. Ramadan is going to start in March. Only sixty days’ time is short. However, we will leave no stone unturned to keep the market stable.”
“Through coordinated initiative, we will ensure that the product is available in the market and that there is no disruption in the supply chain. We will coordinate with sources of supply at home and abroad. We will ensure the supply of products to the market. If the supply of products can be ensured, there will be less opportunity to manipulate,” he said.
“I will go to the ministry on Sunday and sit with everyone to make a plan over how to keep the market stable. We will submit the recommendations to the prime minister, and if she approves, we will implement the recommendations,” the state minister added.
Shortening ‘lead time’ for uninterrupted supply chain
The state minister has rightly emphasized on keeping the supply chain uninterrupted. The market cannot be smoothened for a long time by intimidating the businessmen, namely the syndicate. The market has to be smoothened by making the product available. And to ensure the availability of the product in the market, there is no alternative to an active supply chain.
The time it takes for the product to reach the consumer from the garden is called ‘lead time’. In different countries of the world, it takes only 24 hours to take the product from the garden to the consumer. But it takes an abnormal 2/3 days in our country to take the product to the consumers, despite having an adequate communication system. After the opening of the Padma Bridge, it has become much easier.
This unnecessarily long lead time provides an opportunity for the syndicates to manipulate the market. If we can cut short the lead time to 24 hours to smoothen the supply chain, the market manipulators will have no scope to abnormally hike the prices of daily essentials.
Govt initiative before Ramadan
The government will take various steps to stabilize the supply and prices of daily essentials in the month of Ramadan. In this regard, the government is emphasizing on keeping the stock and supply situation normal and prices under control.
“Our main goals are to ensure the availability of products in the market during Ramadan and keeping the price situation normal.”– Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Senior Secretary to the Commerce Ministry
Commenting on the issue, Senior Secretary to the commerce ministry Tapan Kanti Ghosh told the media, “Our main goal is to ensure the availability of products in the market, even after the increase in demand before and during the holy month of Ramadan. Keeping the price situation normal is another goal. For this purpose, we are already collecting information on stock of products. We are also analyzing the import situation collecting information on LCs opened for the import of daily essentials. As the new government has been formed after the election, now we will hold a meeting with different stakeholders.”
“The government will ensure that no problem is created in the import of daily essentials. Moreover, special monitoring will be ensured for uninterrupted supply chain and logical pricing of stocked products in the market. Strict legal action will be taken if anyone tries to create an artificial crisis of any product in the market,” the commerce secretary added.
In conclusion, it can be said that the government has to be active in controlling the market. There is a need to strike a balance between the government’s good will and practical plans and the demand and supply of commodities. Full utilization of the country’s agricultural production must be ensured. To keep the transportation of goods smooth, especially in the supply of agricultural products, the authorities concerned should keep an eye to ensure that there is no obstacle.