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It is unrealistic to expect that food prices will come down, as the arrival of post-harvest crops in the market has shrunk by half this season compared to previous years, finance and planning adviser said yesterday.

He said after the latest harvesting season only 20 percent of the total agriculture production has arrived in the market against a usual rate of 40 percent that will put a little impact on food price reduction.

Increased capacity of holding the produces by farmers for getting better prices is the main reason behind the less arrival of crops, the adviser said.

“The farmers' holding capacity has increased due mainly to expansion in agriculture credit,” Mirza Azizul Islam said, adding that the government's duty is, however, to check further rises in food prices.

The adviser was addressing a seminar on 'Price-hike and Poverty Alleviation: Budget 2008-09' organised by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) in cooperation with Bangladesh Economic Association and Oxfam International in the DCCI auditorium.

Mirza Aziz said the government has widened and deepened social protection steps in this year's budget to mitigate the sufferings of the poorest due to price hike.

He also said the government has given special focus for ensuring employment generation in the upcoming lean harvesting season. A policy guideline in this regard will be finalised very soon, he said.

The adviser said the much-talked consumer protection act will come into effect within two or three months.

For controlling the price hike and implementing other decisions the adviser also sought cooperation from all sections of the society.

“In some cases the government needs to play the key role, but without cooperation it is not possible for the government especially to control the price hike and implementation of different plans,” he added.

Regarding the oil price hike recently, he said after April last year, when the oil prices was hike for last time, the government had a plan to increase the prices in phases. But, it could not be done due last year's devastating flood followed by cyclone Sidr and Boro harvesting season, he explained.

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