The purchasing power of Bangladesh’s 40 million people is equal to that of Europe. These 40 million people can buy good things at affordable prices. Recently, the Commerce Minister made such a claim while inaugurating the 18th National Furniture Fair. The per capita income of the people of our country is 2800 dollars. In 2040, our per capita income will be 12,500 like Australia. He suggested to the furniture dealers that ‘good quality furniture can be made’. He also asked to remember the middle class. But according to an estimate, the total population of our country is 17 crores. It is nice to know that 40 million people have been empowered to buy good quality furniture, but the remaining 13 million people have not said anything about how they can buy the furniture they need.
He made this statement at a time when the common people of the country are returning disappointed after going to the market to buy essential products to meet their basic needs. Every day such news is being circulated in the media. Various authorities continue to ignore those words by pretending not to hear them through video messages in the media. Daily market watchers are doing a kind of eyewash to the public. They went to the market and informed the people. There are no signs of any commodity price cuts. In front of the camera, some price cuts are being revealed in some markets. But when the government people go behind the scenes, the market prices are again the same or higher than before. As a result, low-income or poor people are now in a miserable condition. Low-income people are forced to spend their days with little or no food as they lose their ability to purchase everyday goods.
An acquaintance of mine operated a pedal rickshaw for several years. His right leg was damaged in a road accident. He can no longer drive a rickshaw. After receiving treatment with the help of others, he again took a rickshaw and went on the road. But due to age, the legs are not as strong as before. It is very difficult to turn the pedals with his weak legs. So he was somehow making a living by installing batteries in his pedal rickshaw. But it is too dangerous for him to drive the normal battery powered pedal rickshaw as it is fast. In addition, various diseases started attacking the body together and now he is bedridden. He showed the doctor with help from people. But because the price of medicine is high, they cannot buy it. Wife works in other’s house. Their livelihood does not go on with that. The doctor advised him to eat well. But the fire price of good food in the market made their death. Hearing his cries, many people helped him, but they were very disappointed with his survival as it was so insignificant.
It’s just one person. The number of such extremely poor families is innumerable, who regularly come to lend a helping hand. Added to this is the unexplained pain of countless low-income families, who avoid buying good food and are too shy to disclose emergency medical treatment to others. So many Nooralam brothers (pseudonyms), Sulekha Bhavis are crying to save their lives. Who will see them? Crying is their life partner.
The government issued a notice more than a month ago to open LCs for four crore eggs to control egg prices. According to the media, the first consignment of 61 thousand 950 eggs entered the country on Sunday. This is the real image of daily commodity market control! No mantra is working to prevent this tragic picture of commodity price terror. In this case, the concerned ministers and authorities themselves are helpless. They are also expressing disappointment in this regard. Seasonal round potato at Tk 70, green pepper at Tk 800 and onion at Tk 100 per kg. The prices of broiler, tilapia, pangas, etc., which are known as poor people’s protein, have also increased uncontrollably. Hilsa, the national fish, has long since gone to the hands of the rich.
70 percent of the world’s total hilsa production takes place in Bangladesh. The rest is caught in Myanmar, India, Thailand and other countries. Hilsa production in our country has increased by 30 percent. However, there is no way to see the national fish Hilsa. Poor or low-income people do not usually enter supermarkets. The price of frozen hilsa arranged in the open raw market is unbelievable! Low-income people look at it and return home with empty bags. As soon as the hilsa was harvested, the syndicate caught the attention of the various hands and went to the freezing environment inside the prison called Coldstore. It gets a chance to become the object of pleasure of the rich in various ways. All the expensive food products of the country disappear for the consumption of the rich and enter all kinds of freezers. The artificial crisis in the market has emerged as a myth created for the worship of the rich!
Thirteen million poor and low-income victims of commodity price terror! Who will take responsibility? In this environment, there is no one to speak for them. For unknown reasons, their words do not appear in the media. Those who are supposed to take this responsibility, they said with a smile, four million people have the purchasing power! Such a statement from the mouth of the members of a large political and ruling party claiming to be friendly to people is not only ridiculous – it is very cruel and shocking! Moreover, the authorities do not dare to strictly touch the terrorist syndicates. Hoarders don’t budge on their word. But these people are always around them. The sufferings of many Nooralams (pseudonyms), Sulekha Bhavis who have died because the government authorities who patronize these rich and dishonest businessmen have failed to control the market of daily commodities flooded with terrorist prices are being felt in their bones. No need to talk about the rest. You can find out by looking at your own door.
There is no shortage of stocks of daily commodities in the country. Daily news reports that there is no shortage of stocks of consumer goods. Then why the deficit, why the crisis is not understandable. How cruel the divisive government policy is can be easily understood by the inefficiency of our market with constant price hikes and no effective solutions to it. It is generally believed that once the rains subside, the prices will fall again. But there is no such sign in the consumer goods market this year. Even if welfare work is done for four crore people, if it is not possible to use it indirectly for the welfare of the remaining thirteen crore people, then there is no point in that work. It is futile to expect natural blessings from such work.
‘We are all for all’ is the slogan of civilized society. But with the advent of the digital age, wide income disparity and purchasing power gap has created, the compassion of people towards people has decreased. Therefore, when whatever comes to his mouth, he immediately expresses it and humiliates people, tries to satirize him. In this way, the sense of mutual respect is lost, the purchasing power of everyday goods is universally exhausted, does anyone want this social system as a civilized person?
Dr. Md. Fakhrul Islam: Professor of Social Work Department of Rajshahi University