Editorial Notes

Soaring food prices worrisome: Daily Star

The paper says the government needs better and more timely strategies of market intervention, as well as oversight mechanisms to keep the market stable.

People shop at a wholesale market in Dhaka on July 28, 2021.
People shop at a wholesale market in Dhaka on July 28, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

DHAKA (THE DAILY STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The skyrocketing food prices continue to make the headlines in Bangladesh, exposing the government's failure to put in place an effective mechanism to check the prices of essential goods in the kitchen markets.

Week after week, this daily has reported how prices of broiler chicken, edible oil, green chilli, etc have continued to soar, putting immense pressure on low- and fixed-income groups. Even the price of rice-for which the government reduced import duty from 62 per cent to 25 per cent to keep the price stable-has risen over the past month.

Despite the commerce ministry saying that onion production reached 2.7 million tonnes this year, against an annual demand of 2.8 million tonnes, the prices of onion rose by Tk 30-35 (S$0.47-0.55) in about a week.

As the government has clearly failed to make traders stick to the set price rate for many essential commodities, consumers have had to cut down on their consumption-their daily protein intake, in particular. Meanwhile, market analysts have raised questions about the authenticity of traders' claims for raising prices.

Traders have been saying that they have been continually forced to raise prices due to higher prices of commodities internationally. However, as many experts have pointed out, commodity prices in our kitchen markets have spiked substantially more, compared to the international prices.

Therefore, it is essential for the government to look into the matter, and punish errant traders and syndicates for trying to exploit consumers at a time when a vast number of people are struggling economically due to various pandemic-related issues.

At the same time, it is important to point out that commodity prices have been on the rise for a month now; the recent price hikes have only added to people's woes. The question is: What has the government been doing all this time? Its inaction or failure to control commodity prices only illustrates its apathy to the plight of people.

While the government must take every step necessary to bring commodity prices down to affordable levels, it must also come up with better and more timely strategies of market intervention, as well as put in place effective and sustainable oversight mechanisms to keep the market stable in the long run. It is unacceptable that consumers have to pay for the government's failure every few months, when this is one of the most urgent issues affecting the quality of people's lives.

  • The Daily Star is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media organisations.