The trading community in Chattogram on Thursday assured that the prices of essential commodities would not be increased ahead of Ramadan.
The business leaders at an exchange of views with the administration gave the assurance.
The Chattogram district administration organised the meeting at the Deputy Commissioner’s office.
Commerce secretary Md Mofizul Islam warned against artificial increase of prices and adulteration of food items.
He said that the government had taken a strict position this year to ensure safe food for the citizens.
‘The government knows how much goods the businesspeople have imported and how much they have in their stock. It has done a lot for the infrastructural development for the businessmen. So, it is their duty to do business with honesty,’ he said.
He urged all concerned to stop adulteration and not to deceive the consumers.
The secretary cautioned that every day of Ramadan the monitoring teams of the Chattogram district administration would conduct mobile court in the markets, saying that if anybody would sell unsafe food items, strict actions would be taken against them.
BSM Group chairman Abul Bashar said that the prices of sugar, chickpeas, pulses, ginger and garlic in this season were the lowest in the last five years, partly because of the sudden strike of water transport workers on Tuesday.
The wholesale prices are fixed depending on the bank interest rates, price of dollar, transport cost, vat etc, he added.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh Chattogram president SM Nazer Hossain said that the authorities concerned needed to conduct drives to stop adulteration of food items.
Kamal Bazar traders association vice-president Md Khaled Khan said that fish like piranha, adulterated ghee, etc spread in the market which were difficult to differentiate from the genuine ones, adding that dishonest business people need to be punished for adulteration.
Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Mahbubul Alam, criticising the weight limits on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway, said that once the Chakltai canal was the curse for Chattogram while the ‘13 tonnes’ was now the curse for Chattogram traders.
He demanded permanent shut-down of the two axle-load control stations on the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway to end discrimination against them in the name of weighing the trucks carrying goods.
‘The government should either set up such scales in all other districts or must close down those for the Chattogram traders, he said.
He complained that an empty two-axle or six-wheeler vehicle weighs 9-9.5 tonnes while vehicles weighing only 22 tonnes were allowed on the highway, for which the Chattogram traders were able to send to other districts only 13 tonnes of goods in these vehicles.
‘This is totally unreasonable,’ he said.
‘We cannot load goods more than 13 tonnes for sending to Sylhet and Rajshahi but no other highways have weighing limits like those on the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway’ Khatunganj trader SM Mohiuddin Mahin said.
Describing the two-axle load control stations on the highway as examples of inequality towards the businesses of the port city, he requested the authorities to remove the measure.
At present the prices of chickpeas and pulse are very low but these items become costly in the retail markets ahead of Ramadan, he said, adding that the district administration should therefore monitor the retail market.
Kazir Dewri market association president Abdur Razzak mentioned that in Kazir Dewri market good-quality chickpeas was selling at Tk 73 and sugar at Tk 48.
Khatunganj trade and industries association general secretary Syed Sagir Ahmed, stressing responsible buying behavior, said that the consumers needed to buy food items for a week maximum, not for the whole month of Ramadan.
City shop owners association president Saleh Ahmed urged the authorities to increase the number of law enforcing officials during Ramadan to check extortion and ensure security of the consumers.
Additional Divisional Commissioner Shankar Ranjan Saha and Additional Deputy Commissioner of Chattogram Md Kamal hossain also spoke at the meeting.
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