Bangladesh minister urges 'restraint and prudence' in Ramadan trade

"We can’t monitor you all the time, so we leave it to your conscience,” the commerce minister says

Published : 15 March 2023, 09:04 AM
Updated : 15 March 2023, 09:04 AM

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has called on traders to show restraint and not chase excessive profits during the upcoming month of Ramadan. He also advised consumers to be prudent by only spending on the goods that they need.

“I would request everyone not to do anything that causes public suffering. We have humanitarian responsibilities and we need sensible businessmen," he said at an event organised by the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection to mark World Consumer Rights Day on Wednesday.

"Globally, customers are offered special discounts during festivals, but our country is an exception. Ramadan is approaching and I would request traders to exercise restraint. Please charge ethical prices. We can’t monitor you all the time, so we leave it to your conscience.”

Munshi believes consumers should practise austerity during Ramadan and only buy what is necessary. “A supply system exists in the market. If you start buying 20 kg of onions instead of 5 kg, supply can’t be increased overnight.”

“Don’t get attracted by flashy advertisements. Never believe someone if they offer you a motorcycle at a price cheaper than its production cost. They’ll just cheat you,” he warned.

The minister recalled a time when Bangladeshis were unaware of their rights as consumers, but the situation has changed now.

“The directorate [of consumer rights] is active and consumers are being compensated when their rights are violated. Half of our job will be done if we can create awareness among the people.”

Munshi expects the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) to double its sales during Ramadan and reach 10 million families. The TCB will sell rice, pulses, edible oil, dates, and chickpeas, he said.

However, organisations such as the DNCRP and the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority have yet to reach the required level of strength and dynamism, according to Golam Rahman, president of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB).

“People are satisfied with their work, but they still lack adequate capabilities. You can’t ensure the rights of consumers in a district with only two or three officers. We request [the government] to strengthen the directorate.”

Echoing the minister, the CAB chief requested consumers not to create a crisis by making additional demands.

“Together with the DNCRP, we’re working to maintain order in the market. The global crisis has affected our markets as well, but we’re continuing our work,” said FBCCI Vice President Mostofa Azad Chowdhury Babu.

The DNCRP has been working in coordination with the CAB, FBCCI, FSA, and other committees to regulate the market, said its Director General AHM Shafiquzzaman. “The local administration also helps us. We pledge to continue our work to ensure the development of Bangladesh,” he said.

The DNCRP handed out awards to the winners of an essay competition at the event.