The government is going to ensure food for people at any cost, even by stopping all development activities if necessary, said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in parliament yesterday.
“I can at least say that no one will suffer for want of food as long as we are in power. We will ensure food for all by any means,” said Hasina describing her government’s measures to import more rice to increase food stock for Bangladesh.
During question hour, Hasina was talking about the price hike of essentials in domestic and international markets.
“There is no doubt that some unscrupulous traders are at play. They are manipulating the market. Otherwise, prices of rice should not have increased so much,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina also cited increased price of rice on the international market as one of the reasons for price spiral in the domestic market.
She said her government has already prepared a list of businessmen, rice millers and hoarders of rice. “Now we are collecting information about them including their political affiliation and what they are doing to the market,” she added.
She warned of taking stern actions against those found responsible for manipulating the market. “The anti-hoarding law will be made effective by bringing necessary amendments to it,” Hasina added.
The premier admitted that the prices of essentials increased to some extent but her government has been able to increase people’s purchasing capacity by increasing their incomes and salaries.
Hasina said the last BNP-Jamaat-led alliance government during their tenure (2001-2006) failed to control the price hike of rice.
She said price of a kg of rice was Tk 10 during the last AL-led government’s (1996-2001) tenure but the price hiked to Tk 30 to Tk 40 for BNP-Jamaat-led alliance government’s failure.
“Price of rice is now Tk 35 to Tk 40 as the Awami League is in power. But the price would have increased to Tk 80 to Tk 90 per kg had the BNP stayed power,” Hasina said.
While replying to a query on the country’s economy, the premier said she was interested in replying to the previous query on price hike of essentials since she was well prepared for it.
She also described her government’s various steps to ensure food for the ultra poor, class-four government employees and members of village police at fair prices.
During the question hour, the premier also spoke about government measures to improve country’s communications networks, reduce traffic jam, welfare of the expatriates, and poverty reduction.