Wholesalers on Sunday at a meeting blamed retailers for hiking the prices of essential commodities, with the government doing nothing to reduce the gap between wholesale and retail prices.
‘There are huge gaps between the wholesale and retail prices of commodities in market and as traders and wholesalers cannot control the situation, the government should take initiative to streamline the retailers,’ Md Golam Mawla, president of Bangladesh Wholesale Edible Oil Traders’ Association, said at a meeting with commerce minister Tofail Ahmed at Bangladesh Secretariat.
The ministry organised the meeting with importers, wholesalers and retailers on supply, prices and stock situation of essential items ahead of Ramadan, the fasting month for the Muslims which will start in the third week of this month.
Golam Mawla told the minister that in some cases the retail prices of commodities were Tk 25-Tk 30 higher than the wholesale prices.
He requested commerce ministry for fixing wholesale and retail prices of essential commodities during Ramadan saying, ‘Otherwise consumers will not get the benefit of the lower prices of commodities.’
Golam Mawla said that the supply orders of sugar were selling at Tk 50 a kg at Moulvibazar while the ready sugar was wholesaling at Tk 54 a kg.
He alleged that some of the mills were selling sugar at high rate bypassing the SOs issued earlier as the demand of the item increases ahead of Ramadan.
Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed said that except sugar and onion, the prices of essential commodities remained stable and would not be increase during Ramadan as the stock of items were higher than demand.
He requested wholesalers, importers and retailers to sell products at a marginal profit during Ramadan.
Traders alleged that officials of Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection asked wholesalers to inscribe the retail prices of the commodities but it was impractical.
Md Shafiqul Islam Laskar, director general of Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, said that for lack of inscription of retail prices on the bags of commodities, traders charged prices as per their wishes.
The commerce minister, however, reprimanded Shafiqul Islam not to put pressure on traders to inscribe retail prices on the sacks of commodities.
‘You will go to market to protect consumers’ rights but do not harass traders. Keeping prices stable will not possible through battle with traders,’ Tofail said.
Traders said that the prices of onion increased due to traffic jam and congestion in ferry.
It takes seven to 10 days to reach a truck of onion to reach Dhaka from India and in the meantime more than 40 per cent of onion gets damaged, they said.
Commerce secretary Shubhashish Bose, Tariff Commission chairman Abdur Rouf and representatives from City Group and Meghna Group, among others, attended the meeting.
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