THE truth about commodity prices in Bangladesh is that once these hit the roof they seldom go down. In fact, holding the price line at a stable level has been like shooting at a moving target in a predominantly sellers' market.
The problem has a way of being defiant but during Ramadan it takes an acuter form. We are already feeling it in our bones. In fact, despite government's repeated exhortations, prices in the capital's kitchen markets are being jacked up. The commerce minister has stated in parliament that business leaders, wholesalers and retailers have assured him of keeping essential prices at a tolerable level during Ramadan. We should not be content with assurances, but see to it that these are complied with. However, we are all for a consultative process among wholesalers, retailers, chamber bodies and the commerce ministry to keep an effective watch over prices.
It is good to learn that teams of the commerce ministry have started monitoring supply and pricing of basic commodities in city's markets. To be sure, speculation, hoarding and market manipulation by 'syndicates' should be stoutly resisted and taken action against. At the same time, the authorities should refrain from sudden crackdowns which may disrupt market forces.
Abnormal hike in commodity prices during every Ramadan exposes how our sellers take undue advantage of a month that is believed to be instilling in them restraint and spirit of sacrifice. Since the volume of sales during Ramadan is very high the traders can spread their profits thin and still earn a big sum of money, rather than falling for get-rich-quick spree.