Economists have held the lax market forecasting system of the government responsible for the hike of daily commodity price. Farzeen Ferdous Alam, chairman of OGGRO Ventures, said though prices of commodities are rising, farmers are not getting its benefit, and as a result, are losing motivation for cultivation.
Had the government been able to predict the onion crisis ahead of time, and begun importing onion from alternative destinations immediately after the rain that damaged onion production in India, it could have averted the supply shortage of the bulb in the local market, they opined.
They said this at a debate on "Soaring Prices: Causes and Cures of the Price Hike Conundrum" jointly organised by Economics Study Center and the EMK Center, held on the latter's premises in Dhanmondi.
Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said the government had well-managed the salt price hike rumour, but failed to disseminate right information about onion to consumers, which created destabilisation in the market.
"A wrong message was given to the people that hoarding was responsible for the price hike, but it was actually not the reason," he said.
The noted economist gave a note of caution over the rise of production cost.
He said, "The price of daily commodities is rising because of increasing cost of labour. It is alarming for Bangladesh's agriculture, as production cost is involved with it."
"If we fail to check production cost, we won't be able to remain competitive in both local and international markets," he said, adding for the benefit of both consumers and farmers, the government must take steps to reduce production cost.
Dr. Mohammed Helal Uddin, director of Cirdap and a professor of economics of Dhaka University, suggested the government to adopt strategy to thwart the speculation created by any syndicate to reap benefits of market volatility.
Munir Chowdhury, former director general of the WTO cell under the commerce ministry, said the ministry has a cell that is responsible for monitoring and forecasting price, but they fail to do it.
He said syndicates, transport cost, black market, corruption, ineffective price monitoring system, food production and disaster are related to market volatility.
If it continues, the country will face huge food crisis in coming days, he cautioned.
Anirban Bhowmik, country director of Swisscontact Bangladesh, moderated the debate.