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Imports should be unimpeded to stop market anarchy

According to media reports, the retail price of open soybean oil has gone up from Rs 140 to Rs 160 per liter in one day. In . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . other words, the price has increased by about 29 percent in one day. The price of bottled soybean oil has been increased from Tk 180 per liter to Tk 198. It is better to call it price terrorism than price increase.

Because there is a normal process of price increase and there may be some price increase in that process. Thus, the fact that the price increases by 29 percent per day cannot be called a normal process of price increase under any circumstances. I have enough doubts whether such skyrocketing prices will be seen anywhere other than Bangladesh. In our country, prices of commodities go up in the market for no reason. And there is no shortage of trickery by our country’s traders to justify this price increase. Flood, Drought, Ramadan, Eid, Worship has become a normal rule in our country due to various reasons. The last two years have been an excuse for the Corona epidemic, and now it has been joined by the Russia-Ukraine war. It is undeniable that the Corona epidemic and the Russia-Ukraine war have caused rising commodity prices around the world. But it has a dimension. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. There is another reason behind this and the main task of the government is to find out and take effective action against it.

In our country, businessmen and even many government officials are always talking loudly about price rise in the international market. But on the same day that the price of edible oil in Bangladesh increased by Rs 40 per liter, the three-liter can of canola oil, the best quality edible oil in the Toronto market, dropped from ড 8 to ড 7, meaning that the price of canola oil dropped from Rs 16 to Rs 163 per liter. In a day when the price of edible oil in Bangladesh increased by 29 percent to 160 rupees, the price of the best quality edible oil in the Toronto market fell by 13 percent to 163 rupees. The most surprising thing is, The retail price of edible oil in Bangladesh market is much higher than the retail price of edible oil in Toronto market. In Canada, however, the minimum wage is ১৪ 14 an hour, and in these developed countries, traders have to pay exorbitant operating costs to control the quality of everything. For this reason, retailers have to fix the retail price by adding about 30 to 40 percent markup or price increase on the purchase price. But none of this is in our country’s market system. Even then, such abnormal price increases have created a kind of anarchy in the market and helpless consumers have been held hostage. Those who are skeptical of my statement, if they please find out the retail price of last week’s edible oil from the websites of Canadian retail stores such as Walmart, Lob-Lodge, Food Basics, Fresh Value, Sunny Food, etc., they can easily realize the truth of my statement. .

In fact, in the name of free market economy, the syndicate has been dominating the market of Bangladesh for decades. Since then the normal process of pricing in the market, The demand and supply situation has become ineffective and is now in the hands of the syndicate. The helpless customers will have to pay the price at which the syndicate will supply the goods. This trend is almost the same in all developed and underdeveloped countries. But the situation in our country is completely different. No one here cares about any rules and regulations. There are sharp political divisions. For this reason, all the political parties cannot take any step together on any fundamental issue. And traders like everyone else can easily use this opportunity to increase the price of goods at will and easily cause misery to the consumers. In fact, there must have been some ulterior motive behind the unprecedented rise in prices. It is important to consider whether such price hikes are aimed at inciting the general public against the government.

I am a banker by profession, so I have tried to analyze the issue of inflation from that point of view. There are some special reasons behind the extra inflation in our country as compared to other countries, which are not discussed in detail here. However, the most significant reason is that the country’s import business has fallen into the hands of a few large corporations. When we started working in the bank, the import trade was uninterrupted all over the country. There were some traders in different districts who imported directly for supply in their area. For example, imported goods from Bogra, Rajshahi, Naogaon, Dinajpur, Khulna region were directly imported by the traders there. They never relied on the importers of Khatunganj. These importers could not sustain their import business due to lack of cooperation from the government and treatment of small traders by the banks. Banks, Private Commercial Banks, in particular, have lost out on the regional small and medium-sized importer market by adopting a policy of making large profits by opening large LCs of large corporations instead of opening LCs (Letters of Credit) to a large number of small traders. As a result, full control of the market passed into the hands of the syndicate. In case of edible oil, if the retail price of oil per liter is higher in Bangladesh than in Canada, then what is the need to import refined oil and sell it. It will be cheaper and easier to import packaged oil directly from exporters. In Canada, since the retail price of high quality edible oil is 163 Bangladeshi rupees per liter and if the minimum markup is 30 percent, Then it is possible to import the fully packaged oil directly at the price of 114 rupees per liter. Healthy competition will prevail in the market if the opportunity to import directly packaged oil can be unleashed on the refinery companies as well and then no single group can control the market alone. And for this, first of all, it is necessary to provide assistance and engage the regional importers and traders in this work. By providing proper training to the educated unemployed youth, employment opportunities can be created for them by engaging them in such import work.

In short, the system of holding the consumers hostage by leaving the supply of daily necessities to a handful of traders or importers cannot be allowed to continue. That is why active steps must be taken now to prevent the import of all kinds of essential commodities, including fast edible oil. The benefits of this initiative can be reaped in three to six months if appropriate steps are taken.

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