Rice price soars: Suffering of common people
It is hard to imagine that the price of rice is going up step by step. The rice market has become quite volatile over the last few days. The price of rice is going beyond the purchasing power of the common people. The price of coarse rice in the market is now 48 to 50 taka which is 48 per cent more than last year. The price of fine rice is 60 to 66 taka which is 17 per cent more than last year. There is no valid reason for the rice market to be volatile. The government is putting effort on rice imports. A rice import agreement with India has already been signed.
The price of Indian rice will be 30 to 35 taka per kg. Government has already reduced tariffs on private rice imports. The stock of rice in the warehouses of the Food Department is less than the last year and for this the government is emphasizing on rice import. The country produces more than three and half crore metric tons of rice annually, of which about 1 crore 40 lakh tons comes from 'Aman paddy'. Rice mill owners are not able to provide rice at the price fixed by the government. As a result, there is no alternative but import. The government has to rely on stocks to curb the price hike of rice and stocks are less this time than last year.
The sudden price hike of rice causes misery to the people and creates dissatisfaction among them. Mill owners, retailers and wholesalers blame each other for price hike. If the market is not strictly controlled, everything goes to the hands of traders. Despite the supply of new rice in the market, there are no logical reasons for raising the price of rice. Everyone is more or less at risk during this time of Corona and all are under financial pressure. If rice is imported officially, there is a risk of loss to the mill owners and farmers.
Wholesalers and retailers think that the price of rice fluctuates due to the manipulation of mill owners. News of mill owner's manipulation is heard often but they claim that the price fluctuates in the market from time to time to ensure a fair price for the farmers. The middlemen are making extra profit through manipulation. As a result, farmers and consumers are facing losses. We all know that the price of a product goes up due to market syndicate. Wholesalers believe that rising rice price at mills destabilize the market. Many feel that the rice market becomes instable as a result of not fixing prices in the wholesale market and its impact can be noticed in the retail market.
There is a tendency among a class of unscrupulous traders to stockpile rice and it is one of the reasons for the price hike of rice. The price hike of necessary commodities without any specific reasons seems to be a part of our culture and once the price goes up, it does not go down. No specific information is available about the reason for the increase of price of the products. When the price of a product goes up then the issue of syndicate comes up. There is no attempt to break that syndicate.
Some experts think that the price of the product can be kept under control through the formation of a commission. Although mobile courts are sometimes used to control the high prices of commodities, it has not been able to bring any permanent benefits. Proper market monitoring is needed and it can be done through city corporations and municipalities. Price often goes up due to transportation costs and extortion. It is also essential to control it. It has become very important to increase the capacity of TCB.
Meanwhile, in a free market economy, determining the price of goods is quite complicated. Problems can be reduced if the supply of products can be increased properly. Mismanagement is not a new phenomenon in the market and no permanent solution can be found by running mobile courts and imposing fines. The market can be controlled by increasing huge supply of the products. Legal action should be taken against those who stockpile goods artificially and no negligence is desirable in this case.
The government monitors the market through the Consumer Protection Act 2009 and Safe Food Act 2013. Most buyers and sellers do not know what is meant by the Consumer Rights Act, so the price of products cannot be controlled even if there is a law. Close monitoring is required to deal with artificial crisis of the products. No effective solution can be expected without taking appropriate action against the culprits.
The government as well as the consumers have a responsibility to keep the market price tolerable. So the behaviour of the consumers has to be constructive. If we have the attitude and mentality to yield to our daily needs, then there is no additional pressure on the market. Due to various complications, TCB cannot be involved in regular business activities. TCB has been kept for emergency services.
In the developed countries, consumers are the controllers of the products, but a different picture is seen in our country. Our wholesalers and retailers are the main regulators of products here. The consumers are being forced to buy what they are marketing. There is also a shortage of manpower needed to enforce consumer rights laws. In our country, consumers can not buy the products directly from the farmers and middlemen takes this opportunity to increase the price of products.
If the market price is controlled by force, it has also some negative effects. So, favourable environment is essential. In other words, it is very important to monitor the purchase and sale price of the products. Receipt and vouchers can play an important role in this regard. If the consumers decide that they will not buy the product at a higher price, then a signal goes to the market which helps to keep the price in check. So the consumers must be aware. There is a stock law in the country and if it is implemented properly, it is possible to check the market. This problem can be overcome by creating suitable investment environment and controlling corruption. A concerted effort is needed to control the market.
The writer is assistant professor, BAF Shaheen College, KurmitolaDhaka Cantonment