Goods prices that are too high, ‘abnormal’ in effect

Published: 00:00, Mar 31,2019


THE increase in prices that essential goods registered in recent weeks may not be something that many would think has gone through the roof, but the increase in prices in the past week or prices mostly remaininbg unchanged for a few weeks after registering an increase is much too high for most of the people. And the increase is enough to raise concern. The concern has, as New Age reported on Saturday, also found expression in the observations of some members of the ruling Awami League’s presidium, the highest policy-making body of the party. The presidum members of the party, at a meeting — with the party president Sheikh Hasina, also the prime minister, presiding at Ganabhaban on Friday — demanded early government steps to arrest the price spiral as ordinary people find it hard to make their ends meet. And when ruling party leaders, who are members on the party’s highest policy-making body, raise concern, which they do not usually do in many of the cases, there are reasons for the government to step in. The commerce minister at a meeting on the stock of goods before Ramadan with businesspeople on March 27 is also reported to have termed the increase abnormal.
In the past week, prices of especially beef and garlic registered an increase in kitchen markets in the capital city. Prices of broiler, free-range chickens and vegetables are reported to have remained unchanged after they registered an increase in recent weeks. Beef sold for Tk 520–550 a kilogram in the week, up by Tk 30–40 on the prices the week before. Garlic imported from China sold for Tk 110–120 a kilogram the week, up by Tk 10 on the prices the week before. Garlic imported from India sold for Tk 80–90 a kilogram while the local variety sold for Tk 60–70 a kilogram. While broiler sold for Tk 160–170 a kilogram in the week, free-range chickens sold for Tk 450–450 a kilogram. While increased prices of daily goods have sprained people’s life in general, prices of beef and chickens are high enough to force people, more so if they are from fixed-, middle- and low-income groups, to cut down on their protein intake, leaving a scope for long-term impact on public health, especially when Bangladesh is often reported to be grappling with the stunted growth in children. With the ranking ruling party leaders raising concern about the increase in prices and with the commerce minister terming the increase abnormal, it is imperative for the government to make intervention to bring down prices of essential goods sustainably.
When prices go up in Bangladesh, they are usually less likely to easily decline. And if they decline, it takes long enough to strain people’s life. The government, under the circumstances, must not delay in making effective interventions in the market to bring down the prices and keep them stable. It must find out the reasons for the price increase, which are often found to have been artificial, and hold to account anyone found responsible for the abnormal price increase.

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