A signboard declares no potatoes for sale at Karwanbazar wholesale kitchen market in the capital on Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Existing data of government agencies, including the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Agricultural Extension, did not match, making it difficult to estimate the supply of essential kitchen commodities
South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem) Executive Director Dr Selim Raihan on Saturday said that a group of unscrupulous traders was manipulating commodity prices by capitalizing on the absence of concrete data related to markets, productions, supplies, demands and their stocks.
He further said that the existing data of government agencies, including the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), did not match, which was why it became difficult to estimate the supply of essential kitchen commodities.
Selim Raihan came up with the observation at a webinar titled “Covid-19 and Bangladesh: Path to Economic Recovery”, organized by Sanem on the day.
“The government agencies do not take effective steps to control the commodity market. They should ensure advanced technology to meet the data scarcity,” he added.
“Only conducting drives cannot control the market. They need proper coordination in surveys and other activities,” the economist added.
The Sanem executive director, however, urged the government agencies to extensively monitor the kitchen market throughout the whole year.
On the government-announced stimulus package to tackle the Covid-19 economic fallout, the economist said that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) did not get sufficient stimulus due to various complexities.
The packages were not distributed as per the targeted amount, he added.
A separate window or bank was needed to implement the packages properly, he suggested.
Raihan said that the country might have to face new challenges in the feared second wave of Covid-19 in winter, including uncertainty in RMG exports, decline in remittance flow, drop in private investment, and slow implementation of declared incentive packages along with existing ones.
Some small scale policies can be taken to address the new challenges such as allowing smooth operation of food supply chain, linking the small scale and local producers to urban businesses/consumers, restoring backward and forward linkages, engaging the local youths in economic activities, encouraging e-commerce and focus on education and skill development, he further suggested.
Sanem Research Director Dr Sayema Haque Bidisha and its research economist Mahtab Uddin, among others, also spoke in the webinar.