Commerce minister says Hasina didn’t discuss anti-price gouging measures with him

He had faced intense criticism for his comments that breaking up the syndicates of dishonest traders may “create a sudden crisis”

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 30 August 2023, 02:31 PM
Updated : 30 August 2023, 02:31 PM

Tipu Munshi has said he did not have a word with the prime minister about steps against price gouging after she said she would look into allegations that syndicates are sharply increasing prices. 

The commerce minister had faced intense criticism in parliament in June for his comments that breaking up the syndicates of dishonest traders may “create a sudden crisis, one that will be difficult for us to deal with”. 

Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque also conceded that it was “very difficult” to break up syndicates of traders behind price-gouging of commodities such as onions, eggs and chicken. 

After journalists asked Sheikh Hasina for her comments on the matter at a press briefing on Tuesday, the prime minister said she was unaware of those comments. 

She also said she would look into allegations that syndicates of traders are involved in charging the customers too high a price, advising citizens to use alternative methods of production and preservation will break these rackets.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Munshi said he was with Hasina for one and a half hours after the briefing, but they did not discuss the issue. 

About his previous comments, he said: “I had said we try to keep the prices under control when they go up by using the consumer rights agency. But the process is sluggish because we lack the manpower.” 

“And if we move to send the traders to jail (for jacking up prices), and they stop trading in retaliation, people will suffer even more.” 

“This is why we try to settle these issues through discussions. We try to find alternatives, such as imports, to keep the supply normal.”