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Syndicate rules commodity markets

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28th-Oct-2020       
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Staff Reporter :
The authorities have failed to arrest price spirals of essential commodities, as a powerful syndicate is active in the market to manipulate prices by applying unfair means, analysts said on Tuesday.
They said that the prices of rice and several other essential commodities continue to soar in the markets despite the country has sufficient stocks.
The prices of key essentials items, including rice, pulse, onion, egg and potato have been soared notably blaming shortage of supply in recent time.
In some cases, prices of some items have been doubled comparing to the last year.
According to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), rice was selling at Tk 50-65 per Kg, pulse at Tk 90-120 per kg, onion at Tk 90-100 per Kg, egg at Tk115 per dozen and potato at Tk 45 per kg on Tuesday.
The price of rice has been increased by 15-36 per cent, edible oil by 36 percent, onion by 100 per cent, pulse by 16-21 per cent, potato by 88.81 per cent and vegetable almost 100 per cent in a year, the TCB data said.  
Keeping the markets stable, the government has fixed the prices of some commodities, but the traders are not following the fixation.
"There is no reason for such abnormal rise in prices of essential commodities including potatoes, onions and green chillies when there is adequate supply in the markets," Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, former governor of the Bangladesh Bank, told The New Nation.
"Middle class families and fixed income group people have been affected severely by the commodity price hike," he added.
He further said, "The Covid-19 pandemic has reduced the source of income of many people, many have
become unemployment. Under this situation, the rise in commodity prices is very unexpected and worrying. This has had a major negative impact on people's living standard."
"The price hike is not for increasing demand or shortage of supply of goods. So, why is the price hike? The reason is the strong syndicate. Both the retailers and the wholesalers are doing the same thing, resulted the prices of the essential commodities have gone out of the people's control," he added.
The former BB governor alleged, "The government is not able to control the syndicate in any way. Mobile courts sometimes conduct drive and fine one or two persons but it does not create any impact on the market."
"Mobile courts are not a solution. Rather strong monitoring is needed. The government must take strong action against the syndicate. Businesses should be shut down, if needed to break the syndicate," he suggested.
Enhancement of transport cost, which has become almost doubled, is one of the reasons but the price hike of locally produced commodities is not expected, he added.
AB Mirza Azizul Islam, former adviser to the caretaker government, said the people from all walks of life are suffering more or less due to the price hike of the daily commodities.
"Alternative supply system has to be developed to break the syndicate," he suggested.
"The rising in prices of essential commodities is may be due to lack of control over the market. It must be overcome immediately," he said.
Ghulam Rahman, Chairman of the Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB), told The New Nation, "To keep the market stable, strong coordination among traders, government and consumers is important. If commodity prices in the international market remain constant, and Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) imports on a large scale, I think the market will remain stable during Ramadan."
"Unscrupulous business syndicates must be brought to book so that none of them shows courage to hike the price of essentials ahead of Ramzan", he added.

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