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12th-Nov-2020

More the merrier

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MEDIA reports on Wednesday advanced suggestion to set up a separate ministry or a department to regulate the commodity market as existing government regulatory bodies are failing to hold it under check. It has raised the question on the usefulness of about a dozen regulatory bodies, besides 12 companies and 30 to 35 market inspection teams including law enforcement agencies to suggest they are not delivering to give relief to consumers. Market manipulators are routinely exploiting consumers who find them totally at the mercy of dishonest importers, traders and hoarders.  
The report said so many regulatory agencies are watching the market on paper but practically the market is totally out of control. Traders mainly blame supply shortage which is an artificial blame game to force buyers to pay exorbitant prices. It appears that most agencies are issuing instructions but none is making sure whether the market is obeying the orders. As a way out some market analysts this time have come up with the suggestion to set up a separate ministry or department under the ministry of commerce to take an integrated drive to effectively regulate the market.
In fact such suggestion is not anything new. But in our view what we need now is not any new organization but the political will of the government to establish discipline in the market. We have TCB trying to provide low cost items to the poor. We have directorate of consumers' right protection; there is also a competition commission among many keep market stable. The FBCCI as the apex trade body is also involved in as much as to ensure timely import and smooth supply of commodities.  
But it appears nothing is producing results. Potatoes now sell at Tk 45 per kg and onion at Tk 100 which was sold at ever higher price at Tk 225 last year.  Mill owners, mostly ruling party MPs have raised rice prices at mill gates spiraling prices in retail market. So we believe new ministry or agency may similarly fail unless the government will decide to discipline the market and allow it to properly function. But this dysfunctional corrupt government is incapable to this job while powerful party leaders regularly collect bribes from importers and big merchants who in turn raise commodity prices to recover their cost.