The commerce minister deserves our thanks. At least he had the moral courage to admit that the prices of essential have spiraled up ahead of the forthcoming month of Ramadan, unlike his predecessor who was all the time convinced that the price was always under control. And there is no doubt, as the minister says, the rise is totally unjustified. Well there is the excuse of flood that will come in handy for those dealers who are constantly on the lookout for natural calamities or religious festivals to exploit the public and make a windfall out of those.
It is only in Bangladesh that prices of essentials are not governed by market laws but by the caprice and whims of a syndicate on whom so far, the governments have had no control. How does one explain the spurt in cost of essentials without any genuine reasons? And this has been happening before every Ramadan While nobody can take issue with the legitimate rise in prices, the problem with our market is that the rise has a ratchet effect; it never comes down.
Since the commerce ministry is sanguine that the rise is aberrant and has decided to deploy monitoring teams to detect the persons responsible for the machination, one would hope that the deviants would be detected and made examples of. Having said that we want to emphasise the fact that any measure, which is abnormal or distorts the system would be more likely to fail. Side by side monitoring, and that has not borne much fruit in the past because of laxity in penalizing the offenders, measures must be set afoot that address the deliberate distortion of prices.
As it is, the profit margin retained by the sellers at various levels is much too high, in some cases more than 100 percent the original cost. This is what the government must also tackle seriously. What must also be addressed are other allied factors that add to the cost at the consumer level like illegal tolls the carriers have to pay from origin to the retailers.