The government is going to take all out measures to keep the prices of essential commodities stable ahead of the holy month Ramadan, expected to begin in the last week of April. Apart from the essential commodities, vegetable prices also go up due to what consumers say ‘ no sincere effort to keep the prices stable.’
As a result, low income people have to suffer a lot during Ramadan every year for the price spiral of daily commodities Besides, it is being witnessed since long that the prices of various essential commodities in kitchen markets across the country see sharp rises despite government assurances to keep the prices of these items stable during Ramadan.
A section of unscrupulous traders becomes very active as Ramadan approaches. And these organised dishonest traders also form syndicates, creating artificial crisis of these essentials, especially those consumed during the Ramadan.
They start hiking prices of onion, sugar, edible soya bean oil, edible palm oil, garlic, ginger, lentils, chickpeas, dried chilli, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, seeds of coriander and cumin, turmeric, bay leaves and edible salt. These groups also start hoarding of those essentials consumed during the Ramadan, and in a planned way, manipulate the kitchen market prices.
Besides, they also create supply scarcity. As a result, prices essentials go up during the Ramadan. Besides, the concerned ministries and authorities do not have effective market monitoring system to prevent the manipulators.
According to commerce and home ministry sources, the government has also decided to form monitoring teams from the grassroots to the central level to check price hike of essentials at the wholesale and retail markets, as the country has adequate stock of essentials.
“Monitoring teams will be formed across the country to oversee the wholesale and retail market so that none can create artificial crisis of kitchen staples through hoarding,” a high up of the commerce ministry said. The official also added that tough action will be taken if anybody is found hoarding essentials consumed during the Ramadan for creating artificial crisis in the market.
Meanwhile, as part of import essentials, the government has already directed Bangladesh Bank to give instruction to all commercial banks in order to take necessary steps to facilitate quick imports of some 17 essential commodities by traders, said a press release. The items are: onions, sugar, edible soya bean oil, edible palm oil, garlic, ginger, lentils, chickpeas, dried chilli, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, seeds of coriander and cumin, turmeric, bay leaves and edible salt.
Earlier, the commerce ministry in a letter to the governor of the central bank, directed him to take necessary action for import of these essential items smoothly by traders concerned. In response to the letter, the central bank has already issued a circular, asking authorised dealer (AD) banks to take required action in this regard.
The officials of commerce ministry said, the prices and supplies of various essentials are stable in the local market. “And we will do everything to keep prices of essentials under control ahead of Ramadan,” he said. According to the commerce ministry, country's annual demand for edible oil is 1.86 million tonnes. About 0.3 million tonnes of edible oil will be required during Ramadan.
The annual demand for onion is about 2.4 million tonnes. Some 0.5 million tonnes will be needed in the fasting month. As per the official data, the country produced over 2.33 million tonnes of onion last fiscal year and set a target to produce 2.38 million tonnes of the item in the current fiscal.
The country's annual demand for sugar is 1.8 million tonnes. During Ramadan, some 0.3 million tonnes of sugar will be required. Besides, the country's annual demand for lentils is over 0.45 million tonnes. Some 80,000 tonnes of lentils will be required only during Ramadan