Traders on Sunday conveyed to the government their fear that like previous years extortion by police and others from goods carrying vehicles and business establishments would push up prices of essentials during this Ramadan.
At a discussion, organised by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry at its auditorium in the capital, businesses requested the government to stop extortion by police and political activists on highways and at shops to reign in prices during Ramadan.
‘A huge number of iftar parties and other events on the eve of Eid take place under the banner of different social and political parties and in most cases businesses are forced to bear the cost of the events,’ former DCCI senior vice-president MS Shekil Chowdhury alleged.
Extortion in the name of Iftar party and other events in the name of Eid celebrations also put pressure on commodity prices as businesses would try to recover the money from the prices of goods, he pointed out.
DCCI president Abul Kasem Khan said that traditional supply chain management, unabated hoarding, lack of market monitoring, extortion on highways, excessive traffic congestion and increase in transportation cost were behind price spiral of essential commodities.
He urged the law enforcement agencies to strongly handle extortion in transportation sector as well as manage traffic jam in the city and highways.
Before Ramadan, speedy customs clearance at ports of essential commodities, mostly used in Ramadan, could ease price hike, Kasem demanded.
Abul Hasem, general secretary of Bangladesh Paikari Vojya Tel Byabasayee Samiti, alleged that extortion from trucks on the highway was going on with the support of police.
He said that the prices of essential commodities were under the control of 5/7 businesses and the DCCI should sit with them.
Dhaka University professor Zia Rahman presented keynote paper saying that the government fails to control market during Ramadan every year due to the unholy nexus of a quarter.
‘We have to realise the situation of the market when prime minister has to intervene to control the commodity prices in a country,’ he said.
Zia urged the government to control political and police extortion from businesspeople.
DCCI member Siraz Uddin Malik alleged that region-based goons already started extorting money from the businesspeople and the government should take action immediately.
‘I want to ask home minister whether police would provide support if the businesses take initiative to prevent extortionists,’ he said.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said that the government would take stern action against extortion.
He requested businesses to file specific complaints over the extortion and the government would take proper action.
Asaduzzaman urged businesses not to cross load capacity on highway and not to run vehicles without legal documents.
He said that in some cases traffic inspectors were taking advantage as many trucks were carrying goods without registration.
‘Even if one plies his vehicle with proper registration and driving licence, police cannot take bribe. But it is true there are extortionist police and we are taking action against them,’ the minister said.
He, however, accused traders of adulterating food.
On law and order, Asaduzzaman urged businesses to play a role in this regard and observed that many big industries were being installed but some shut their factories without paying the workers before Eid, which affected law and order.
‘Sometimes we see that despite stable price on international market, increasing dollar price pushes up prices of essential commodities on local market,’ president of Consumers Association of Bangladesh Ghulam Rahman said.
He also blamed huge traffic jam and container congestion at the ports for price spiral.
Ghulam Rahman suggested that the government ensure strong market monitoring during Ramadan.