By Dr Anil Kr Bora
It is known to all that the price of essential commodities is increasing day by day in our State. We also feel surprised about the unprecedented price rise that is taking place in our State recently. But the question may arise: What is the reason behind the price rise? The surprising fact is that the price of any essential commodity varies from one shop to another, even in the same market or under the same roof of the same market or locality.
If we ask any grocery shopkeeper or retail seller about the sudden price rise of essential commodity, the retail seller will tell you outrightly that “the price has increased at the source”. Likewise, if we ask any vegetable vendor at the time of purchasing any vegetable, he will surely say, “The price increases at the source and what can we do? We are bringing fresh goods or quality commodities from the market, selecting among various commodities”.
Some people opine that after any election held in our country or State, the price of commodities may generally rises. I don’t know what the actual reality is. On the other hand, some people always say that price may increase in our State due to the activities of some intermediaries i.e. – that may be of syndicate or check gate or the so called dalal, etc.
But right now, there is neither check gate nor any syndicate in our State. Then why the price of essential commodities is increasing day by day. The economic theory has changed because origilly the perishable commodities like fish and vegetables, etc., which are confined to local markets only, are not only confined to local markets, rather it is extended to tiol even intertiol markets due to advancement of some techniques and technology.
“The general theory of economics is that when price falls, demand increases and when price rises demand falls. But now, goods are available in the market and even then prices are also increasing”. The one and half months / two months older present BJP government of the state has taken various steps in view of socio–economic development of the state in the first Cabinet meet. Top priority has been given with regard to the control of price rise in essential commodities.
Accordingly, Chief Minister of our state already directed the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of different districts to understand the situation and submit report in the respective districts in this regards very quickly. The DC of different districts has shown keen interest and initiative in response to the directives of Chief Minister to curb the price rise i.e. mainly of essential commodities as their level best as far as possible. They are visiting different markets nearby and try to sort out the actual reasons of price rise in our state.
The general people of Assam expected from the BJP Government more and more and perhaps people voted in favour of BJP and its allies in view of the solution to the different burning problems of the state. As a result the BJP and its allies came into power with an expanded victory i.e. of 86 seats.
Whatsoever, I think Government can control the price of essential commodities up to a certain extent taking some measures immediately, they are mainly: 1) State Government has to fix the prices of essential commodities daily or time to time in the market. Accordingly the sources of procuring of different commodities of Whole Sale Trader and its price along with the invoice should be checked. Generally, invoice price, adding of VAT (Value Added Tax) and transportation cost what will be estimated price of any commodity in the market that should be fixed by the government. Of course, it is inevitable to government to impose VAT on some commodities in order to run the government very smoothly generating or earning revenue because sources of revenue of our state are very limited. 2) The Government should see that the Retail Seller should not levy of profit more than 15–20 per cent on different essential commodities. 3) Government should keep strict vigilance that no tax or money can be collected by intermediary or agencies etc. on the transported goods of essential commodities in roads. 4) Government should open up some retail trades in different places of the state to give relief to the BPL people or poor and middle class people of our state. 5) Government may issue different licensees to unemployed youths of the state for opening different retail shops so that unemployment problem can be solved to a certain extent. 6) Awareness has to be created by the government to take receipt against every purchase of commodities more than Rs.100 by the customer. 7) If price of any essential commodity rises because of lack of production or short supply, then government may supply those products to the public at subsidized rate for short–term period only. 8) Government should initiate some policies in order to arrest these problems mainly if state farmers get loss due to very low price in the market (i.e Manda) or lost by flood, drought etc. 9) The retail traders should display the list of each and every product / commodities along with its price daily in front of their shops for knowing general public. 10) The Administration should strict against price rise and in curbing the price rise if required; dishonest businessmen should be punished, even by amending our laws too. 11) ‘A toll free number’ should be launched and widely published through different media outlets for general public to lodge complaint against dishonest businessmen or any market discrepancies. 12) The supply department of our state should fix retail price and whole sale price of every commodity in the market time to time. 13) The hoarders and black marketers of the state should be punished by ecting strict law. 14) Public or customers should aware of every sphere of traders’ activity.
With good cooperation from the general public, NGOs, activities of the government administration, no doubt the problem of price rise can be solved to a certain extent.
(The writer teaches Magement in Assam Engineering College, Jalukbari, Guwahati.)