Occasionally the market for daily commodities becomes volatile. Buyers are also getting lost in the sudden unbridled price of the product. The government has taken initiative to remove this instability in the market. For this purpose, a committee has been formed to fix the prices of 15 daily commodities.

The committee will set up a structure to fix retail prices in line with international prices of products. The 9-member committee has also started its work by convening the joint head of the Trade and Tariff Commission.

The products that the government wants to fix are edible oil, sugar, salt, onion, garlic, lentils, gram, dried chilli, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, coriander, cumin, ginger and bay leaves. However, there are questions in various quarters about how successful the government will be in fixing the prices of daily commodities. 

In this regard, Munshi Shahabuddin Ahmed, Chairman, Trade and Tariff Commission, said that a committee has been formed to formulate a system for fixing prices of daily commodities. The committee has been asked to report after verifying the prices of the products in the market.

That report will be sent to the Ministry of Commerce in the form of recommendations. The Ministry of Commerce will decide what to do next. When asked, Golam Maula, general secretary of the Moulvibazar Business Association, said, “I don’t understand how it is possible to fix the prices of import-dependent products in a free market economy.”

It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. He added that the new laws will not benefit. Instead the product needs to be imported by determining the exact demand.

Importers should be encouraged as well. Only then will the price of the product remain within reach. Reviewing the recent market prices, it has been seen that the soybean oil market has started to fluctuate at the end of last year.

Soybean oil prices have been rising uncontrollably in the local market due to instability in the international market. That is why the buyer has to buy soybean oil at 140 rupees per liter. The price of sugar is now being increased from Tk 65-72 to Tk 60-6. 

Asked whether it was possible to control the market through pricing, Golam Rahman, president of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said it was a good initiative for surveillance. There needs to be a benchmark.

He added that in order to keep the market stable, first of all, the demand for daily necessities has to be accurately calculated. There are many allegations that the concerned ministries and departments manipulate the statistics of the products or stocks produced to show their success. Because of this the government cannot take the right decision. 

According to the government agency TCB, prices of almost all types of daily necessities have gone up in the last one month. The price of open and packaged flour has gone up by Tk 2 per kg, open soybean oil by Tk 6 per liter, five-liter bottled soybean by Tk 40, lentil pulses by Tk 10 per kg, domestic garlic by Tk 20 per kg and imported garlic by Tk 20 per kg and dried chillies by 20 kg. 60 per kg, imported dried chillies at Rs. 20 per kg, turmeric at Rs. 10 per kg and bay leaves at Rs. 40 per kg. 

It is learned that the meeting of the National Price Monitoring and Determination Committee was held on February 4 in the meeting room of the Tariff Commission. The meeting was attended by representatives of daily commodity importers, producers, FBCCI, DCCI, wholesalers, Ministry of Commerce, NBR, Department of Agricultural Marketing, Bangladesh Bank.

At that meeting a committee was formed to determine the price. The committee will determine the retail price by reviewing tariffs, milling costs, processing costs, packaging costs, transportation costs, producer and importer profits, wholesaler profits or commissions and retailer profits along with international prices.

It has been asked to submit the report within 10 days. Obaidul Azam, director of the Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute, said at the meeting that the government had declared some products as essential through the Essential Commodities Act.

It is the responsibility of the government to keep the prices of these products within the purchasing power of the consumers. To this end, it is necessary to determine the reasonable price by reviewing the local and international market prices of these import-dependent products. 

At the meeting on the rise in edible oil prices, Mostafa Haider, president of the Vegetable Oil and Vegetable Manufacturers Association, said prices of crude soybeans and palm oil in the international market have risen abnormally in the last few months. It has been adjusted to the local market. 

Biswajit Saha, director of Citigroup on behalf of the Sugar Refinery Association, said the price of unrefined sugar has gone up in the international market. This should be considered in determining the price of sugar in the local market. 

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