Despite their efforts, the prices of essential items are still high
In an effort to control the prices of essentials in Ramadan, the government has employed 12 organizations to monitor and control market prices. Each day, 30-35 teams are monitoring the market and giving reports to the government.
However, consumers claimed that the businesses are still making excess profit. There are allegations that the businesses are not abiding by the rules.
On the other hand, the businesses said that the government agencies are harassing them.
The organizations that are in charge of controlling market prices include Ministry of Commerce, Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), Bangladesh Food Safety Authority and the city corporation. The district administrators are also taking part in the monitoring.
Security forces such as the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and four intelligence agencies of the government are also keeping tabs on the price, supply and stock of the Ramadan essential items.
Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) is selling five necessary items such as soyabean oil, sugar, red lentils, grams, and dates at relatively low prices.
A team led by a deputy secretary rank officer visits the markets every day and reports back to the Ministry of Commerce. Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection under the Ministry of Commerce keeps an eye on Ramadan essential goods’ prices as well.
BSTI is checking if products have been properly labeled and making sure that the products have not crossed the expiry date. They also look out for impurities being mixed with the goods.
The RAB and Bangladesh Food Safety Authority will be running mobile courts while the government intelligence agencies will observe the market so no artificial crisis can be created.
Prices still high
Consumers said that most businesses are not following the rules and prices set by the authorities. There are allegations against the organizations of not properly monitoring the market to maintain the price of the Ramadan goods at a reasonable level.
Mobarak Hossain from Dhaka’s Shahjahanpur said: “Dhaka City Corporation has given instructions for beef to be sold at Tk450 per kilogram. But at my local meat shop, they are selling per kilogram for Tk500. When the price is set at Tk550, the local shops sell it for Tk600.
“They cite various causes and sell the meat for Tk50-60 extra per kilogram. This is happening in broad daylight and there is no one to monitor the situation.”
Recently, when the price of onions hiked up, Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection ran operations in the markets of Dhaka and instructed the businessmen to write the price and quantity of the onions on the sack. But the onion traders did not do this.
Preferring anonymity, the deputy secretary rank officer who leads the monitoring team said: “It is very difficult to monitor the retail market. Incidents of not abiding the rules usually happen in the retail and small local shops.
“The Ministry of Commerce once passed a law that the vouchers purchased from the market must be kept public by the retail sellers. So the public is well informed. But nobody has followed this rule to this date.”
The city corporation passed the decision that commodity prices of everyday items will have to be listed on a board at the entrance of the market. Some businesses followed the rule for a few days, while most of them did not. Nowadays, no one follows this rule.
A wholesale trader from Kawran Bazar Md Shafiqul Islam said: “We followed the instructions. But a lot of traders ignored it. Ultimately, no one from the authority comes to check if we follow the instructions or not.”
Another wholesale trader, Romzan Ali, from Dhaka’s Shyam Bazar said: “Sometimes, members of the intelligence agencies come to inspect the storage. They unnecessarily harass us about the products and prices. Some of them do not even have the basic knowledge about product storage. The traders often get into arguments with the enforcement agencies regarding these matters.”
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said: “The market is well stocked with all the Ramadan necessary goods. The prices are within the reach of the average consumer as well. Several teams from the government are monitoring the market. We are observing the market so no one can create an artificial crisis of goods.”
This article was first published on banglatribune.com