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Government should admit its failure to stop price hike

Published : Sunday, 25 February, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 362

Government should admit its failure to stop price hike

Government should admit its failure to stop price hike

Acknowledgement of success and failure is the core of a democratic society comprising different political ideologies and interests. Bangladesh which attained independence following a nine-month-long war against Pakistan occupational army on December 16, 1971, was initially a "basket case," but now it is heading to be a "developing country by 2026."

However, Bangladesh for the past several years has been hurt by high inflation following continuous hike in commodity prices to the tune of about nearly 10 per cent. Costs for utilities like electricity, gas, water etc. are also raised time to time as the fuels like petroleum, liquefied natural gas, coal have to be imported at higher prices, caused by geo-political situations including war and conflicts at different regions of the world, preceded by the outbreak for most notorious coronavirus globally in 2020.

As of now it seems that the government has totally lost its grip on the market which has gone out of control day by day with prices sky rocketing. Also there are many other problems which have been fast eroding peoples confidence in the government, according to government critics.

In response, the government says that the people should acknowledge the multifaceted development occurred in the country mainly in the infrastructure and the economic sectors despite myriads of challenges and shortcomings especially in the 15 years, achieved under the incumbent government which has recently taken the helm of the affairs in January this year for the record consecutive fourth and the fifth term.

Political analysts suggest that similarly the government should also acknowledge its total failure in keeping prices stable. It should also admit that despite taking various measures, it has failed to keep basic essentials like rice, wheat, edible oil, lentil, sugar etc at the reach of common people of fixed income group.

The analysts also say the government must admit that it has no control on the businesspeople who dominate the commodity market and have monopoly in import and distribution of the goods in the local market. In bids to keep the prices stable it often lowers or removes the import-duties on most essential goods time to time. But benefit of this duty re-fixation ate not reflected at all in the market. The government also launches some half-hearted drive to break the cartel raiding unauthorized hoardings, but it fails to improve the situation. Besides imported items, commodities like rice, vegetables, fish, meet etc, which have sufficient production at home are also on rise, often going beyond purchasing capacity of the middle and poor income group of people.

According to analysts, the government should also confess that it has been failing to stop money laundering by vested groups, some of whom are found to be directly or indirectly involved in the government and the ruling party. The government also should admit that the Bangladesh Bank has been failing to bring the banking sector in order as the drives to recover defaulted and nonperforming loans are yet to get momentum.
Corruptions at government offices, run my different ministries are still rampant, though it has been reduced in some sectors after digitalization and introduction of app-based transactions and electronic tendering. The government has also failed to bring some corrupt and criminal activists of different front organizations of the ruling party.

Opponents of the government believe that some ruling party leaders including certain members of the parliament and ministers who are also businessmen by profession are behind the alleged syndicates which manipulate the market price.

According to Transparency International Bangladesh, 65 per cent of the members of parliament elected in the last general election are businessmen, highest among the last four parliaments. However, the government believes that its rival who wanted to prevent the last general election, demanding the polls to be held under a non-partisan caretaker government have been manipulating the commodity prices to alienate the people from the government.

Acknowledgement of failures by the government often creates sympathies of the people for the government, which in the long run are benefitted, especially in a democracy which lacks powerful political rivals of the government. There is a plus point for the incumbent government as it has brought many unprecedented developments cultivation, manufacturing, power generation, infrastructural and economical development for the country in its past terms. People also understand that the there is possibilities for further development if political stability continues in the country.

However, at this grave situation political analysts believe the government must adopt a mechanism to bring the situations under control. The time has come that the government now must pay attentions to all these failures and take effective steps to mend them as quick as possible. It must think that the infrastructural and the economic development cannot replace these administrative failures, which are sufficient to spark public agitation against the administration.

The government must think that, its rivals, which are now on their back foots, may be emboldened if the mass starts supporting them to get rid of its all persistent failures.

To get rid of the situation, the government should adopt strict measure in handling the situation. It should involve all segment of the people including the defence forces, law enforces, civic societies, consumer rights groups and different civilian organizations, in putting efforts to stop price hike. The government should utilise defence forces in aid of its civil administrations in order to keeps things including the market, banking, farming, manufacturing, overseas trades in order.

If necessary the government may assign responsibilities on the defence forces to monitor commodity hoarding,  supplying and marketing of essentials, until the prices come down to normal level. The parliament should enact some laws disallowing businesspersons to make exorbitant profit. Law enforcing authorities should be deployed to ensure that commodities are also sold as per the prices fixed by the commerce ministry, Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, or any other competent bodies.

The government must take steps to control the situation if it likes to stay in power for the full-term without facing agitation of the people on the streets.

The writer is Business Editor, The Daily Observer

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