Sunday, November 28, 2004

Essential prices

We are used to the callous ramping up of prices by traders during the month of Ramadan. They take advantage of what they consider captive consumers. This year, however, the problem seems to be all year round. It’s permanent. We must have all now heard of the Tk.80/kg aubergine. The fault lies not with retailers but with the middlemen. Say, for example, the farmer only gets Tk.20/kg where does the other Tk.60 go?
It’s the channel of distribution that needs to be tackled. Revamp the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) with proper funds so they can bring sense to the middlemen.
The so-called free market needs to be tamed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Monga

Monga doesn't just happen in north Bengal. It has spread to other parts of the country.
It has hit millions with a vengeance this year. A deadly combination of heavy floods and the usual ‘lean’ season has pushed the poor over the edge. Can we still pretend that people do not starve to death in Bangladesh? Monga occurs each year in the period after crops are sown and up to the harvest.
Poor people go hungry because they cannot buy food. They need money. The best way is definitely not the photo-opportunity distribution of ‘relief goods’.
It is better to provide jobs.
Could we not plan major food-for work or even money-for-work programmes to build infrastructure in the rural areas. The present party became famous for digging canals in the 1970s. Can they not do something similar again?