Around 90 per cent of people of Bangladesh are forced to buy low-quality products when the prices increase as their incomes do not go up in keeping with the upward movement of basic items’ prices, speakers said yesterday.
“As the prices of goods increase, the income does not go up, which puts pressure on the family.
As a result, mental and intellectual development is disrupted,” said Rajekuzzaman Ratan, the general secretary of the Samajtantrik Sramik Front.
He said 90 per cent of the population faced pressure when prices of essential items rose.
“They compromise with the quality of food and suffer from malnutrition. This impacts the next generation.”
He made the comments while presenting a keynote paper at a webinar on “Consumer rights in the face of rising prices of goods and services” jointly organised by the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) and VoktaKantho, an online news portal of the CAB, yesterday.
Addressing the webinar, Prof M Shamsul Alam, energy adviser to the CAB, said it was becoming impossible to control the market due to the inconsistency of price increase.
He pointed out the inconsistency in the income between government employees and marginalised producers.
“The market can be controlled when income inequality is removed,” he said.
MM Akash, a professor of the economics department at the University of Dhaka, said the interest of both consumers and producers had to be protected.
He demanded a permanent wage commission to restore consistency between market price and wage.
The domestic market depends on the purchasing capacity of people, but their buying power was not increasing, he said.
Ratan said except for 23 per cent of the very rich, wealthy and upper-middle-class, the remaining 77 per cent of the people were affected by the increasing cost of living.
He called for a balanced price-fixing to save the market from the curse of inflation by breaking the monopoly and syndicates.
According to the labour leader, although there were many types of jobs and professions, the wage board had been fixed by the labour ministry for only 43 sectors.
There is a provision to revise the wage every five years, but it has not been done since 2013, he said.
Ratan recommended strengthening the Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation to make farm inputs quickly and cheaply, empowering the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, and introducing a rationing system.
He also suggested monitoring the market, taking steps to rationalise transport fares, making education affordable for all, and controlling the market of healthcare and medicines.
Malay Bhoumik, a professor of the management department of Rajshahi University, backed rolling out a rationing system.
Ghulam Rahman, president of the CAB, Jyotirmoy Barua, a lawyer at the Supreme Court, and Kazi Abdul Hannan, editor of VoktaKantho, also spoke.