Rice market totally deceitful
Prof Shamsul Alam, state minister for planning, yesterday called the rice market of Bangladesh as completely deceitful as the staple is not sold under their real names.
For instance, a rice variety is sold as Pushpomoti by cutting and polishing the coarse variety named Shorna, he said.
"This is a deceitful way of selling rice, so it should be stopped. Here, the market reform is necessary."
Prof Alam made the comments while speaking to a group of reporters from the Development Journalist Forum of Bangladesh at the planning ministry.
"Because of the cutting and polishing, rice loses its nutritional value and it is being done by importing machines spending crores of taka. The government will take steps soon to stop it," said the state minister.
Prof Alam also talked about the challenges facing the economy.
"The biggest challenge in our economy is high inflation as the prices of many products have risen," he said.
The Consumer Price Index rose 8.57 per cent in January, a decrease of 14 basis points from 8.71 per cent in December. January's inflation figure was the lowest since August when consumer prices surged to a 10-year high of 9.52 per cent.
The prices of raw materials and fuel oil have gone up owing to the disruptions caused by the Russia-Ukraine war, driving up the cost of production and thus impacting the price level.
Alam ruled out any connection between the increase in prices of some products and the conditions tagged with the $4.7 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"We had to reduce the subsidy and raise the prices of some items even if the IMF did not approve the loan," he said.
The state minister said the agricultural sector was doing well and the service sector was also witnessing better growth.
He also claimed that the inequality between the rich and the poor had narrowed and the government had taken many steps to bring it down.
The government has provided assistance to 2.5 crore people and has distributed books free of cost, he said, citing examples.
"You will see mobile phones in the hands of every people, and colour televisions in their houses. You will not find anyone who walks barefoot. The inequality has narrowed."