Commerce secretary warns against stockpiling goods to make extra profit
Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh said on Wednesday that strict action will be taken against deceitful traders if they try to stock up on goods to make extra profits.
The rise in prices of essential commodities in the international market has had an impact on the Bangladeshi market, although there are no shortages at the moment, he further said at a press conference at his secretariat office in the capital.
The senior official mentioned that the market monitoring system will be reinforced at district and upazila-levels to keep stock, supply and prices of daily commodities stable.
Ghosh elaborated that the price of only edible oil and sugar have increased in the market.
But traders have taken this opportunity to drive the prices up of many products, he said, adding that the Ministry of Commerce is strictly observing the market.
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“We will expand supervision of district and upazila committees. Presently, we have increased TCB's operations by two and a half folds and added more items to the cart. More products, including onions, will be sold starting next month. Measures are also underway regarding imports,” he said.
Additional Commerce Secretary AHM Safiquzzaman said that the retail price of per kg sugar will remain between Tk75-80 for the time being.
And the price of edible oil will remain the same, he added.
“Even if the price increases in the international market, it will be considered later,” he also said.
The sudden rise in prices of flour, lentil, and oil prices in the commodity market has risen panic among consumers.
Sugar price has risen by Tk10-12 per kg, flour prices saw a per kg hike Tk4-7, and the price of lentil have also gone up by Tk7-9 per kg.
Sugar is currently being sold at Tk75-84 per kg, flour at Tk33-39 per kg, and lentil at Tk74-80 per kg.
A flour seller, wishing anonymity, said: “Wholesalers have enough sugar and flour in stock. International prices may have increased, but there is no shortage.”
He also said that after the lockdown, the price of flour was Tk1,500-1,600 per sack (50 kg). Now it has become Tk1,880-1,980.
Mohammad Murad, a private bank employee from old Dhaka, said: “Due to my diabetes, my doctor has prescribed me to eat bread made of whole wheat flour. Now I see the prices having increased by Tk7-8 per kg — this is worrying for us amid the pandemic.”
Rickshaw puller Babar Ahmed said: “We poor have nothing to do, we do not have any fixed income. Earlier, rice prices skyrocketed, now flour, sugar, lentil, and oil. Now I cannot even dare to enter the kitchen market, TCB trucks is our only option.”
Government should provide relief to low-income people, he added.
Another consumer Kiran Das said when the strict lockdown was extended sugar, flour and lentil price were stable, only edible oil prices were up.
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“Now lentils have become Tk82 per kg. Rice is also Tk7-8 per kg dearer, this week, Sonali chicken price also increased by Tk10. For rich people, commodity prices are not an issue, but for the middle class, a slight change is a huge matter because of our fixed incomes,” he added.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Vice President SM Nazer Hossain told Dhaka Tribune: “Due to lack of monitoring and control over the market, a limited number of importers are bagging the extra citing various issues.
“It is true that after the withdrawal of the lockdown, the demand for commodities has gone up. So, when international prices go down, they do not even lower the prices, and current products in the market were imported earlier at an old price. But then why are they charging a new price?”
Local sugar mills have a huge amount of unsold sugar, proper marketing and distribution channel can resolve the sugar price issue, he added.
According to Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation (BSFIC), the local mills have produced only 82,000 tonnes of sugar in the last FY2019-20.
The country's market demand for sugar is 1.8 million tonnes per year. The sugar currently supplied by the corporation is only 4.5% of the market demand.