An uncontrolled food market
Ali Ahmed
06 Jan,2018

The Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) and Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) have conflicting admits about the cost of living and inflation. According to CAB, the cost of living in Dhaka has gone up by 8.44 per cent. The price of rice has gone up by 20.40 per cent on average from the corresponding period last year.

BBS, on the other hand, claims that the overall inflation has fallen in December. They claim that inflation was 5.91 per cent last November and 5.83 per cent in December. According to BBS, rural food produce accounts for 63 per cent in calculating inflation, and 49 per cent in the urban areas. A large percentage of the earnings of people in the limited income bracket is spent on rice.

The planning minister could not explain how the rate of inflation has fallen despite the increase in the price of rice and other essentials. He said that it has to be seen how much impact the rise in rice prices has on inflation. The price of rice has been on a steady rise since the beginning of last year. In a country where rice is the staple food, it is only natural that increased rice prices will put inflation up, whether the minister admits that or not.

The CAB survey was based on information regarding 114 food products, 22 regularly used items and 14 services in 15 retail markets of the capital city. It is not clear on what basis BBS shows that inflation has decreased.

Previously, a report of the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM) stated that over 500 thousand people have fallen below the poverty line due to the increase in rice prices. If the increase in rice prices does not have an effect on the economy, then why have these people fallen below the poverty line?

If reality is admitted, then solutions can be sought. But if reality is not admitted, then it is easy for the situation to go out of control. It is a matter of further concern that the price of rice does not fall even after the fresh crop arrives in the market. On the other hand, the farmers complain that they are not getting a fair price for their food grain. This does not bode well for either the producer or the consumer. The profits are all pocketed by the middlemen. Has the government no control over the market whatsoever?