“Some traders sell products at high prices for extra profit"
Apart from enforcing laws to ensure consumer rights, Commerce Minister Beer Muktijoddha Tipu Munshi has called on consumers to be more aware.
He said this while addressing as the chief guest at the opening ceremony of the Shadow Parliament on Consumer Rights Protection organized jointly by the National Directorate of Consumer Rights Protection and Debate for Democracy at the Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (FDC) in the capital on Friday.
The Minister of Commerce said that it is not possible to ensure consumer rights only through legislation. As consumers should be aware of their rights, traders should respect the law and introduce human values. Values need awakening, not degradation. If the price is not reduced, the price will be reduced if the warning is given that the import will be done. The prices of goods really increase during the month of Ramadan. These should be avoided. Some also mentioned that many have been prosecuted for violating consumer rights.
The minister said that almost the entire requirement of edible oil and sugar has to be imported. In addition to these, if any product is imported, the government sets the price through the Trade and Tariff Commission, keeping the profit of the traders. Still, it is seen that some traders sell products at higher prices for making extra profits. Actions are being taken by the National Directorate of Consumer Protection to bring unscrupulous traders under the law. However, he said that it is not possible to suppress only by applying the law.
Tipu Munshi said, it is not right to overstock thinking that there will be a food shortage. But people of our country keep doing this. Although the government says that there is enough in all products in the country. As a result of the agricultural revolution, Bangladesh has achieved self-sufficiency in many products. When there is a shortage of a product, the government imports it. The government always tries to ensure that the farmers are not harmed. Consumers should also be able to enjoy the products easily.
The minister also said that the import of food products has been hampered due to the Ukraine-Russia war. As a result, it has affected not only Bangladesh but the whole world. There is no denying that the prices of daily necessities have gone up. But it has increased not only in our country but in all countries of the world.
In this context, he said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is selling food products at low prices through TCB, thinking about the suffering of the poor people. Oil, pulses and rice and other commodities are being provided to one crore family card holders across the country. Despite the economic crisis in the country, the government has stood by the poor and helpless people by giving huge subsidies.
Later, in response to the question of the journalists, the Commerce Minister said that the price of eggs or chicken or onion or green chilies is not related to the Ministry of Commerce. The production and demand of these are with the other two ministries. Consumer rights monitors whether these products are being sold as per the price set by the government. But if the price of any product increases, the Ministry of Commerce has to stand in the dock.
In response to another question about giving magisterial powers to the Directorate of Consumer Rights Protection, he said that they do not have the required manpower to conduct operations to protect consumer rights. We have taken increased initiatives. This office should have magisterial powers. He also opined that his own officers or those who can exercise this power can be posted in the Consumer Directorate.
Mock Parliament Speaker and Chairman of Debate for Democracy Hasan Ahmed Chowdhury Kiran presided over the event while National Consumers Rights Protection DG(Addl Secretary) AHM Safiquzzaman was the special guest.
On the first day, the subject of debate was “Consumer rights cannot be ensured by law alone”. Debaters from Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University spoke against the motion while Eden Mahilla College spoke in favor of the motion. Eden Mahilla college won in the debate.
It may be mentioned here that 8 university level educational institutions are participating in the competition organized by the National Directorate of Consumer Rights Protection and Debate for Democracy.