Bangladeshis have grown accustomed to the whims and greed of dishonest traders and business people, particularly those dealing in food and other consumer goods. Consequently, they never miss an opportunity to raise prices on flimsy grounds, such as an unusual thunderstorm or a wildcat strike by transport owners. The editorial is about It Is Time To Break The Syndicate.
Prices of fast-moving consumer items have frequently risen despite adequate reserves and expected demand. Unfortunately, in a sellers’ market, consumers are subject to the machinations of the syndicate, which dictate the supply of essential goods. Regrettably, despite assurances, the administration has been unable to rein in this rogue group of traders, who continue to call the shots and dictate prices at will.
The disturbing fact is that food prices rise in the run-up to Ramadan. Although demand increases significantly during the fasting month, it rarely exceeds supply. And, unlike in other countries where economic laws are allowed to operate, prices that rise once never fall as the demand curve flattens out in Bangladesh. And this has a lot to do with the government’s inability to make the market mechanism work as it should.
As a result, it is unsettling, but not surprising, to see that the prices of essential goods are rising once more. It was unsurprising with Ramadan less than a month away, but the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war provided the traders with an additional justification.
To be sure, the conflict will impact the market—to varying degrees—but it defies logic that the war has only been going on for a fortnight, and the waves have already reached our shores. Are we to believe that our stock position is so bad that it can’t withstand a volatile market for a short period? Experts are divided on whether the war is to blame. They believe that the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine will have a three-week lag time. The pandemic had indeed disrupted the supply chain, but the price increase in Bangladesh has been much more significant than the international price increase.
The actual cause is the unbridled greed of a subset of traders. Therefore, it is immoral – and illegal – for them to take advantage of the situation and milk the consumers. How do traders account for the increase in the cost of actual items not imported from these two countries in the last eight months? Instead of preaching to traders and consumers, we believe that the administration, both at the national and local levels, should begin strictly monitoring the market. Dishonest traders must be held accountable, and hoarding must be severely punished. All supply chain management steps should be strictly adhered to at the planning level to mitigate the effects of supply disruption.
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