Vol. 5 Num 263 Tue. February 22, 2005  
Letters to Editor

Food prices

It is really sad to see that a democratically elected government miserably failed to control the prices of essential foodstuff in a country like Bangladesh, where more than 35 percent people live under poverty line. We are extremely sorry to see most of the ruling alliance high-ups being insensitive to this issue and even their grassroots level leaders and workers are crying without any help. Some ruling party leaders and their goons are busy making money by taking this opportunity of high food prices.

Rice, milk, wheat, sugar, edible oil, salt, onion are essentials that people cannot do without. The government should develop some sort of mechanism to control the price of these essentials. Most of the people of Bangladesh are extremely poor and their buying capacity is very limited. On the other hand, most of these poor people are associated with agriculture for their bread and butter.

The government is following a wrong policy and making the poor people's lives miserable. In a free market economy price depends on supply and demand. In developed countries food prices go up and down from time to time, but nobody feels the heat as their income is very high in relation to food prices.

The government should develop a system or mechanism so that poor farmers can get the proper prices of their products when they sell them. But they should also be assured of buying foods at reasonable prices when they are in need.

The government policy is for importers, businessmen, brokers and politicians.

The government should immediately construct warehouses to build buffer stocks of these essentials. When greedy businessmen will try to increase the price, the government should increase the supply to keep the price stable. At the same time when farmers are about to sell their products, the government should keep buying even at a loss to control the falling prices. The government should also have buffer stocks with imported items so that it can keep the prices down when prices go up in the international market. This policy is followed in lots of countries but not in Bangladesh.

For example, in the US the government has a huge buffer of imported crude oil. It uses that buffer to control the price in domestic market when the prices go up in the international market. In case of food items India is also following this policy. Even they have started making buffer for fuel. In case of Bangladesh what this government is doing we are not sure, we are in complete dark. They are continuously making lame excuses like prices going up in the international market. Sometimes we see they are reducing the import duty making room for corrupt syndicated businessmen to make more money at the expense of the whole nation. This is not a permanent solution.

Please do something to make poor people's lives happier, make the country secure when it comes to food security. Already the gap between poor and rich people is very big; do not make it worse in the name of free-style economy.