Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi. COURTESY
The government will fix the prices of nine commodities including fuel oil, rice, wheat, sugar, edible oil, lentils, onions and cement within the next 15 days, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said on Tuesday.
"The Tariff Commission will determine the reasonable price of these products within the next 15 days," he told media after a closed-door meeting with the stakeholders regarding the progress of supply, stock-up and product import in the market.
He also warned of legal action if anyone is found charging more than the prescribed prices. The person or businessman accused in the case can be jailed for three years, the minister noted.
Tipu Munshi said, "Commerce ministry has noticed that the prices of these commodities skyrocketed recently by taking unfair advantage of the global instability and appreciation of dollar in the domestic market. This was not fair. We conducted regular operations against the ill-practice through various organisations including the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP). However, it failed to do the job and stabilise the market."
"In such a context, the Ministry of Commerce has held this meeting with all the stakeholders of the concerned products to determine the fair price as per international market price, as well as, the domestic production and supply situation," the minister added.
"In case of violation of the price fixed by the government at any level, concerned authorities have been instructed to take legal action and fine the person or business," he cautioned.
He further noted that all agencies, in charge, at the field level, including the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, and Bangladesh Competition Commission, have been given a clear order to file a case if a trader is found to be manipulating the govt-approved fixed rate.
"Punitive measures should not end with mere fines," he asserted.
In the briefing, Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission Chairman Mahfuza Akhtar, FBCCI Senior Vice President Mostafa Azad Chowdhury Babu and Chittagong Chamber of Commerce President Mahbubul Alam, Bangladesh Competition Commission Chairman Md Mofizul Islam, Director General of Consumer Rights Protection Directorate AHM Safikuzzaman and senior officials of the Ministry of Commerce were present.