Vol. 5 Num 689 Mon. May 08, 2006  
Front Page

Price Spiral of Essentials
Business leaders want action against syndicate
Minister blames negative politics as main reason for hike

Country's top business leaders yesterday sought immediate measures from the commerce minister against the syndicate responsible for skyrocketing prices of essentials while the minister identified 'negative politics' as the main cause of the ongoing price spiral.

"The present price crisis of essentials is not for commercial reason. It is the result of negative politics including strike, barricade and extortion," said newly appointed Commerce Minister Hafizuddin Ahmed, who held a long meeting with the leaders of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) at the FBCCI office.

The minister, however, said he will sit with the importers of essential products today to find out the actual situation of supply-demand and syndication.

"I have nothing to do against the illegal syndicate who manipulated prices of essentials but I will inform the top brass of the government to take action against the offenders," said the commerce minister, who also holds the portfolio of water resources ministry.

He also blamed mismanagement of power sector and devaluation of taka against dollar and price hike of imported essentials in international market as other major factors for price spiral.

The commerce ministry alone cannot curb price spiral, he said, adding, "It is a team work. The home ministry needs to stop extortion in market and trucks carrying goods, agriculture ministry needs to increase production and finance ministry needs to set tariff structure and policy support to curb price spiral."

He said the prices of essentials have already reduced and the situation will improve further in the near future.

The minister called upon the main opposition Awami League to shun negative politics in order to improve the overall economy of the country.

He assured the FBCCI leaders of help to set up the federation's own building.

Addressing the meeting, FBCCI president Mir Nasir Hossain suggested that the government take effective steps against the syndicates if found guilty of manipulating prices of commodities.

The other suggestions made by the FBCCI include expanding export market, product diversification, ensuring quality of products through mutual recognition of certification with other countries, increasing efficiency of ports, and power and gas sector and improving law and order.

FBCCI first vice-president Mohammad Ali, vice-president Dewan Sultan Ahmed, directors, Commerce Secretary Md Abdul Karim, Vice-Chairman of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) Mir Shahabuddin Mohammad and other senior government officials were present at the meeting.

Meanwhile, LGRD Minister and BNP Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan said the price hike of essentials is 'temporary' and the government is trying to bring down the price to a tolerable level.

Price of essentials will go high as the economy flourishes, the minister said while addressing 'meet the reporters' programme on 'Next election and present situation' organised by Dhaka Reporters Unity at its auditorium in the capital.

Admitting that there are some problems in power, water and gas sectors, Bhuiyan said the price of sugar has increased in the country due to price hike in international market.

Regarding syndicated business in hiking up price of essentials, the minister said if anyone, even if he is a minister or secretary, is found guilty, stern action will be taken.