No let-up in price spiral
THAT consumers had to pay 13 per cent more on average to buy essential commodities and services resulting in the rise in overall cost of living by almost 6 per cent and a half in 2012 tends to suggest that the incumbent Awami League-Jatiya Party government has failed to live up to its election pledge to ‘reduce the unbearable burden of price hike and keep it in tune with the purchasing power of the people’ in almost four years since it assumed office in January 2009. According to a New Age report on Tuesday, the Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh—a rights organisation—has made the revelation based on its analyses of market data on essentials and commodities that include foodstuff, clothes, house rent, electricity and transport costs through a press release issued on Monday. Notably, the association’s estimates excluded the cost of education and healthcare, which, needless to say, has also continued on an upward curve.
Capitalising essentially on rice price that has recently come down by a certain proportion for some specific reasons, apparently in view of the next general elections constitutionally scheduled to be held in less than a year, the key functionaries of the government, including the prime minister, have on several occasions in recent months claimed that they have already contained the prices of essential commodities that have undergone a huge surge since the incumbents took office causing immense sufferings to the people in general and the fixed- and low-income groups in particular. The CAB findings tend to belie such claims.
In its election manifesto, the incumbent government also pledged to take some specific measures, including elimination of hoarding and profiteering syndicates, preventing extortion and setting up of an institution to control commodity price and protect consumers’ rights, to arrest price spirals. Regrettably, however, there has been little progress in this regard thus far. True, the Competition Law intended to prevent traders from syndicating has been recently enacted. But it is also true that, mainly due to lack of enforcement, the law is yet to make any impact on market. Allegations are there that while the wrong model pursued by successive governments about the economy in general and market in particular has contributed to the spiralling of commodity prices, the incumbents appear unwilling to desert the model.
The government needs to realise that the rhetoric it has reeled out so far on keeping the prices of essentials within the capacity of ordinary people has not only failed to address the situation but also given rise to huge frustration among the consumers at large. It is indeed high time that it did something effective to significantly reduce the cost of living for the people at large.
comments powered by Disqus