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Monday, October 27, 2003

Compiled by SDNP

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Ramzan tomorrow

Govt fails to check prices of essentials


Staff Correspondent , The Bangladesh Observer

The prices of essentials recorded a sharp rise in the city markets and elsewhere in the country, ahead of Ramzan.All steps of the government to arrest the searing prices of essentials are in vain. The prices of onion and different varieties of pulses which are used largely in preparing Iftar items remained at previous levels at different retail markets in the city on Sunday. The price of onion continued to increase since the beginning of this month.


However, the government withdrew duties from onion and fixed its price at Taka 18 per kg on October 19 in view of the abnormal price hike of onion. But local varieties of onion were selling between Taka 32 and Taka 30 per kg in the city's retail markets on Sunday. The imported Indian onions were sold in the retail markets between Taka 24 and Taka 26 per kg.


Pulse and Chhola (gram) are being sold at their previous price levels in the city markets on Sunday. Mashur pulses were  sold in the city markets on Sunday between Taka 42 and Taka 44 per kg, Moog between Taka 43 and Taka 45 per kg Khesari between Taka 24 and Taka 25 per kg, Chhola (gram) between Taka 32 and Taka 34 on Sunday. Potatoes used in preparing Iftar items were available at Taka 13 and Taka 14 per kg.


Vegetables prices also remained at higher levels at different markets on Sunday.  Brinjal was sold between Taka 28 and Taka 30 per kg while Tomato was sold at Taka 50 per kg on Sunday but it was available at Taka 40 per kg on Saturday. The prices of Soyabean oil ranged between  Taka 48 and Taka 51 per litre although the Government had fixed its price at Taka 46 per litre last year. Taka 15 to Taka 20 increased in five litres soyabean oil container during the last three weeks.


Sugar was sold at Taka 33 and Taka 34 per kg while it was available at Taka 30 per kg a month back. Prices of different varieties of rice remained unchanged on Sunday. Meanwhile, the authorities on October 23 fixed the price of beef at Taka 90 and that of mutton at Taka 140 and these  two items were not selling in the local markets at prices fixed by the authorities in the city markets on Sunday.


Dates which were available at a reasonable prices in the city markets last year, are now selling at higher prices  this year. Quality dates were sold between Taka 180 and Taka 220 per kg, as against last year's price of Taka 120 to Taka 160 per kg.


Some wholesellers and retailers observed that the prices of all essentials would further continue to rise due to failure of the Government to cheek the price spiral on the eve of the month of holy Ramzan.


A number of consumers told the Bangladesh Observer that in the absence of any measures by the Government the miseries of the consumers will continue to increase due to price spiral of essentials during the holy month of Ramzan. 

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Education week ends

Tk 5000 cr project taken to develop edn sector: PM 

The Bangladesh Observer

Happy with the success of her government on different counts in the last two years, Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia on Sunday hoped that the economy would have a firm footing in the next three years through implementation of various programmes underway, reports UNB.


She underscored the importance of primary education, which is basic to all, and said a bigger project at a cost of Tk 5,000 crore has been taken up to develop the education sector, apart from various programmes under implementation.


Implementation of a six-year programme for recruiting 35,000 teachers and developing education infrastructure would begin next year, the Prime Minister announced at a function marking the conclusion of National Primary Education Week-2003.


She said her government attached top-most priority to education because it believes that only education can free the distressed from poverty.


 “Education can show how to stand with head high. Only education can ensure one’s civic, political, economic and social rights,” she told her audience from the academic arena. 


Presided over by PM’s Adviser on Primary and Mass Education, Prof Jahanara Begum, the function, held at the Osmani Memorial auditorium, was also addressed by Primary and Mass Education Secretary Dr Tahmina Hossain and DG KM Mosaddeq Islam.


The Prime Minister also gave away prizes to 30 students and teachers for their outstanding performance in different spheres of academic life.


Begum Zia mentioned that her government declared 2003 as Good Education Year aimed at spreading quality and universal education in the country.


 “A number of steps have also been taken for expansion of female education as overall development of the country largely depends on education and empowerment of women,” she said.


She urged the teachers to groom the students as valuable human resources. The Prime Minister recalled the contribution of Shaheed President Ziaur Rahman who made primary education compulsory and introduced universal primary education programme in 1980.


She also mentioned various steps taken by her government during the 1991-96 tenure and asserted that the present government is working relentlessly towards making the roadmap of development a success. Ministers, MPs, senior government officials and a host of teachers attended the function. 

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Essentials market
Control flops as prices spiral

The prices of essentials on the kitchen market are spiralling, despite a number of government steps to put a lid on prices during Ramadan. A market survey yesterday revealed that the government steps have had a little impact on the prices. The prices of onion, edible oil, sugar, red chili, garlic, turmeric and vegetables have shot up over the last two weeks.

"I have bought one litre of soybean oil at Tk 52, which is at least six taka higher than last month," said Shamsuddin, a buyer at Mirpur-1 kitchen market.

"I have bought onion at Tk 32 a kilogram, paying an extra Tk 10 over its price last month," said Selina Akther, another buyer at the same market.

"I don't know how the economy operates, but we have read in newspapers that the government has taken some steps to bring down the prices of essentials," she said, adding that the steps could not make any impression.

Vegetable vendors at Motijheel Colony Market have stocked up for Ramadan although high prices still restrict the low-income group to a fraction of their normal purchases. Wholesalers admitted that the prices of essentials are still much higher than last month.

PHOTO: SK Enamul Haq                                   

"I'm charging Tk 24 for a kilogram of onion as its wholesale price. The supply of onion in the market is not enough to meet its demand," said Kamal, a wholesale trader in the city's Karwan Bazar. "The demand for onion has gone up in the last two weeks, and it will take some time for its price to stabilise as we will have to depend on its import, " he added.

The Ministry of Commerce formed a taskforce a few days back to monitor market prices and fixed the price of onion at Tk 18 a kilo . The prices of vegetables have also increased. In Mirpur-1 kitchen market, a kilo of potato is being sold at Tk 13, tomato at Tk 42, green chilli at Tk 32 and turmeric at Tk 69.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Consumers' Society (BACSO) in a press conference yesterday blamed Commerce Minister Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury for failing to control the prices of essentials.

"The commerce minister caved in to the pressure of the businessmen and has failed to control the prices," said Faruk Ahmed, secretary general of the BACSO, at the press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) auditorium. The BACSO urged the government to update the laws on consumers' rights through amendments.

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