Wednesday, 27 October, 2021
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Go tough against price manipulators

Go tough against price manipulators

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For the past few months, we have been observing a continuous increase of prices of essentials in the city kitchen markets. Presently, their prices have climbed to the highest peak multiplying the sufferings of the consumers, especially those belonging to low-income groups. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, people's income has decreased, but their everyday expenses have increased thereby shooting up their living costs.

What is most baffling is that there is ample supply of vegetables in the markets, but the buyers are compelled to purchase the commodities at higher prices. However, the reason behind the abnormal trend became clear from a news-piece published in this paper's yesterday issue. This happens because of a wide gap between wholesale and retail prices of the vegetables.

Although unbelievable, the difference of prices is reportedly more than double. And, it is the consumer who has to bear the brunt of it by paying higher prices of necessary commodities. Farmers are also being deprived a lot. They produce vegetables at their hard toil, but they are not being benefited from such steep prices of their produce. They should get at least 60 percent of market prices, but they do not get even half the market price because of change in hands in the supply chain. A lion's share of the money goes to the middlemen and the retailers due to the market mismanagement.

Time has come to restrict the number of middlemen to ensure coordination of prices at the farmer and consumer levels. In Dhaka markets, retail traders increase prices by syndicating. Although the authorities concerned are aware of their manipulations, no tangible action has been taken to turn the tide. Enough is enough. Now, the government should intervene to stop the market manipulations and bridge the gap between wholesale and retail prices.

Special teams led by magistrates should be employed to regularly conduct operations in the markets through mobile courts so that strict legal actions can be taken against the dishonest retailers. There should be provisions of both fines and jail terms for the market manipulators to bring back market stability.