A draft research paper highlighted the major reasons behind escalating prices of basic commodities in the local market.
The findings include supply shortage, syndication, rising global prices and high transportation costs as the major causes behind the hike.
Natural calamities, lack of government policy, bribery or extortion and interrupted utilities were also found as factors that led to the surge in commodity prices.
Professor Feroz Iqbal Faruque, resource person of MIDAS (Micro Industries Development Assistance and Service), presented the findings of the draft research, 'In-depth analysis on price dynamics of essential commodities', at a programme at the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
FBCCI President Annisul Huq moderated the programme.
FBCCI sponsored the research conducted by MIDAS. In the draft paper, which came under fire from different stakeholders for its shortcomings and misleading figures, said the annual demand for rice in the country is 334.58 lakh tonnes, while the supply from local production is 289.31 lakh tonnes.
Demand for chilli has been shown 5.71 lakh tonnes a year against the local supply of 1.18 lakh tonnes.
However, the draft findings were bitterly criticised by participants when Faruque mentioned that the annual demand for salt in the country is 9.52 lakh tonnes with a supply of 13.56 lakh tonnes and the demand for onions is 10.85 lakh tonnes with a supply of 8.89 lakh tonnes. These figures do not match the real scenario.
Similarly, he incorrectly said the demand for soybean oil is 7.42 lakh tonnes against a supply from local sources standing at 0.59 lakh tonnes and the demand for pulses is 6.03 lakh tonnes against the supply of 2.04 lakh tonnes.
Expressing his opinions on the keynote presentation, City Group Chairman Fazlur Rahman said there is controversy between the findings and the matter in practice.
“We cannot just accept such wrong findings. The paper requires correction before it is made public," he said.
Dissemination of such incorrect information will make the market volatile rather than stabilising it, as demand and supply determine the market price of basic commodities, he added.
Criticising the findings, Ferdous Ara, an additional secretary to the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), said the objectives of the findings were not set rightly as the research objectives contradict the practical findings.
The researcher tried to establish a link between statistical data from Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and market price, but the he only emphasised the dynamics of basic commodity prices in the local markets, she said.
AK Azad, managing director of Ha-Meem Group, asked FBCCI and MIDAS to conduct the research again to depict the real picture of the dynamics of basic commodity prices, now a burning issue.
In response to queries made by programme participants, Faruque said he conducted the research based on the data by BB and BBS.