IT IS sad that a sudden increase in open market sales rice price has dealt a blow to poor farmers in the flood-hit Sunamganj and many of them were forced to return home from outlets empty-handed. The food ministry has doubled the OMS rice price, with effect from Sunday, from the previous Tk 15 a kilogram citing an increase on the market. All this brings to the fore the government’s lack of farsightedness in terms of perceiving any unstable weather situation such as incessant rainfall and untimely flood that harmed crop outturn and resulted in price increase, and, thus, lack of prepared for any unforeseen circumstances. It is only natural for poor consumers to react angrily at the doubling of the OMS rice price on Sunday as they had bought the rice on Friday for Tk 15 a kilogram from the outlets that remained closed on Saturday. Many buyers did not trust the OMS outlet dealers on Sunday after hearing from them that the price had doubled. Many had no other options but to run to the upazila officials concerned to get the information confirmed. It would not be an exaggeration if one says that a chaotic situation prevailed at OMS outlets.
Under these circumstances, it would not be superfluous to add that despite this hapless condition of the populace, the incumbents are often found trumpeting their much-vaunted achievements in raising the national economic growth and arresting the increase in goods prices in their stint. But they forget that 40 per cent of the total population, living below the poverty line, still remain hungry, against this backdrop of price increase. This also shows that the margin between what they think about their successes and what has come about in reality has not diminished. Therefore, their political rhetoric that they are in full control over every developmental sector sounds absurd and ludicrous. When an increase in the price of rice, one of the staple foods, is a potential threat to the survival of the low-income groups, they should abstain from this kind of self-indulgence. They should realise that sustenance is the first and foremost among all other basic needs of a society or a class of people for its graduation from a given standard and without it, the very idea of social uplift remains far-fetched.
At this juncture, the government needs to develop an appropriate mechanism to reverse the situation by reducing the price of OMS rice to its previous rate and by running the OMS outlets flawlessly with adequate supply of rice so that none of these people starve, to say the least.
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