January 16, 2024
DHAKA – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said she wants to see the fruit of the ministries’ steps to lower the prices of essentials.
At the first meeting of the new cabinet, she also asked the ministries to make sure the prices do not rise again in Ramadan.
“Prices of essentials must come down. We should prevent the middlemen from manipulating the market,” Hasina was quoted by a minister as saying.
The minister who attended the meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office told The Daily Star that the PM wants an uninterrupted supply chain during Ramadan, which begins in the second week of March.
The PM’s directive comes as prices of rice rose by Tk 2 to Tk 8 a kg depending on the variety over the last 10 days.
Winter vegetables that should have been in abundance in the market also got pricier last week, making it difficult for low- and limited-income people to make ends meet.
According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, inflation has been over 9 percent since March last year, while food price inflation was in double digits in October and November. It fell to 9.5 percent in December before rising again.
At yesterday’s meeting, the PM reminded her colleagues of the government’s zero tolerance for corruption in the public sector, particularly government procurement.
“I will not tolerate corruption and irregularity,” she was quoted as saying by another minister.
Transparency and accountability must be ensured, she said.
Briefing reporters later, Cabinet Secretary Mahbub Hossain said the PM ordered the ministries to make action plans in line with the Awami League’s election manifesto.
The PM highlighted the importance of agricultural production and instructed making more food storage facilities to preserve farm produce, Mahbub said.
Hasina then directed the officials concerned to quickly complete the projects that are at the final stages and asked them to take up projects that would directly benefit people.
The cabinet secretary said the PM directed ensuring that the social safety net programmes benefit the people who actually need it.
The PM also ordered filling the vacant posts through recruitment and taking steps to export leather and jute products and farm goods.
The premier directed the ministry concerned to take special initiatives to diversify exports.
The prime minister has asked to give more importance to information technology (ICT) education and to take various programmes to engage youths in sports and cultural activities so that they can refrain from drugs, terrorism, and militancy.
She also ordered dealing with arson and acts of sabotage in a coordinated manner, Mahbub said.
The president’s draft speech for the first session of the parliament was approved at the meeting.