Nearly 77 per cent of people’s income in Bangladesh have decreased because of the coronavirus fallouts over the previous one and a half years, as stated by the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) on June 27.
CAB in its district and upazila level representatives’ conference held virtually stated that the expenditure increased by 6.31 per cent across the country for various reasons.
CAB Chairperson Ghulam Rahman stated that the prices of basic commodities and the cost of some public services have risen despite some initiatives the government took up in response.
He reasoned that the water prices and public transport fares were not set reasonably. The Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority in the previous month raised the price of water by 5 per cent irrespective of whether it was used in residential areas or for commercial purposes, as stated by Rahman.
He stated that in a similar fashion the government in March 2021 raised the bus fares by nearly 60 per cent.
Instructions were given to the bus operators to limit the use of passenger carrying capacity to 50 per cent which means one passenger could not sit right next to another, to maintain social distance.
But, very few bus operators in Dhaka have been complying even though passengers are being charged the new rate, as stated by him.
Due to that, the much required social distance is not being maintained while passengers, in this time of crisis, are having to shell out extra, as stated by Rahman.
He even stated that although the government had created good laws to prevent the anomalies, those are not being properly enforced.
The CAB chairperson called for more independence of some public organisations such that they can deliver better services to people. These include the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution, Directorate General of Drug Administration, Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission, Bangladesh Food Safety Authority, and Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection.
Also, Rahman stated that a duality prevailed for the fact that incomes had declined during this time of coronavirus, but per capita income had increased to $2,227.
The CAB chief also apprehends that the economy would not be able to make a rebound if 7 crores to 8 crore people were not inoculated as soon as possible.
The discrepancy is also evident in stimulus package disbursements, he said, adding that stimulus loans for large industrial units were quickly disbursed while that for the cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises were yet to be wholly given out.
Rahman also demanded a separate consumer affairs ministry to oversee prices, supply and production of 15 essential commodities so that those could be available to consumers at stable rates year-round.
Chairperson of the Bangladesh Competition Commission (BCC), Mofizul Islam stated that there been proper competition in local markets, consumers could have bought the goods 23 per cent cheaper.
And the GDP would have grown by an additional 2 per cent to 3 per cent, he said.
Bablu Kumar Saha, director-general of the consumer rights directorate, said they had resolved some 10,000 out of 13,000 complaints concerning online business to date.
He encouraged aggrieved customers to register complaints with them, explaining that they conducted 70 to 80 drives in markets every day to check anomalies so that consumers’ rights were protected.