Monday, 8 August, 2022

Arbitrary price hike must end

Arbitrary price hikes of essential commodities is a cause for consumers’ concern all year round. But it assumes frightening proportions ahead of any religious festival when traders hike prices of essentials without rhyme or reason. Take the recent price hike of onions as an example. Now that Eid-ul-Azha is just around the corner, when onions will be hot in demand, the price of this essential commodity has suddenly gone up by Tk. 20 per Kg. Besides, prices of all other cooking ingredients have gone up as the Muslims are preparing to celebrate their second-largest religious festival because of lack of proper monitoring.

In absence of any proper monitoring, traders hike prices arbitrarily and it is common experience for consumers to be charged exorbitantly. There is no monitoring, no discipline in the market. The government from time to time fixes rates of some edible commodities, but these are not always adhered to and unnecessary altercation between sellers and customers is common. 

This arbitrary and unethical rise in the prices of essential food items is closely linked to the inability of the authorities concerned to deal with market manipulation. Unscrupulous traders often jack up prices creating an artificial crisis situation. It is common knowledge that various syndicates rule the roost in the market, but no counter mechanism is being taken to keep a tab on market manipulators. The authorities either played down the issue, or failed to fully realise the unbearable cost of living for millions of low-income citizens.

It is high time the authorities took administrating measures like monitoring the market, enforcing anti-hoarding law, regulating supply of a commodity through market intervention, providing fiscal incentives or disincentives, subsidising production where necessary, and finally importing food items if necessary. We hope the government will handle the issue seriously instead of making some rhetoric or blaming opposition parties.