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Bangladeshi experts call for crackdown on syndicates hiking food prices in Ramadhan

THE DAILY STAR/ANN – Experts in Bangladesh called for cracking down on syndicates of traders who hike the prices of essentials during Ramadhan like clockwork every year by manufacturing a crisis.

“There should be valid reasons behind the price hike, which is not the case in Bangladesh,” said senior research fellow SM Zulfiqar Ali from the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies. “It’s natural that if the supply increases the price decreases, but in our country, it doesn’t happen sometimes.”

“The government could not take any authoritarian step as the businessmen are influencing the government,” he said at a webinar styled ‘Poverty Situation In Cities-Villages and food price hike’ organised by Right to Food Bangladesh.

To buck the trend, it is necessary to stop the business syndicates, extortion in transportation and corruption, said speakers at the webinar.

“It is not possible to control such a big market by only enacting laws and rules,” said Chairman of Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad.

“On one hand, we want a free market economy, on the other hand, we want to control the market. We need to decide what we want to control and what not,” he added.

A middle-income country cannot have weak market management, said Research Director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue Khondaker Golam Moazzem. “A competitive market or a competitive price structure is absent here,” he said.

“We do not have the factual inflation data. If we don’t reduce the data inconsistency, it will not be possible to take proper steps,” said professor at the University of Dhaka’s economics department Sayema Haque Bidisha.

“The price level has increased 28.07 per cent in the last five years,“ said General Secretary of Right to Food Bangladesh Mohosin Ali, while presenting the keynote paper.

“It would be possible to reduce poverty by reducing the income gap between the cities and villages as well as the regional inequality.”