The Financial Express

Rising cost of living

| Updated: December 31, 2021 22:13:21

Rising cost of living

Last week's news survey conducted by the Financial Express among a cross-section of people has found how the increased cost of living in the outgoing year has adversely impacted the lower segments of society. On an average a family's monthlyexpenditure shot up to 13 per cent as against its income rise of only 5.0 per cent in 2021. More specifically if a family had an income rise between 4.0 and 6.0 per cent, such a family's expenditure soared between 10 and 13 per cent compared to 2020. Low- and lower-middle-income families thus have been hit the hardest this year. The findings corroborate conclusions arrived at by national and international studies. People belonging to the segments under scrutiny either had no savings or had to spend whatever little they had during the raging pandemic. With the cessation of the pandemic's ferocity, it was supposed to be the time for such people's turnaround. But this has, as always, been frustrated by the irrational diktat of the free market economy.

The privileged beneficiaries of business and industrial sectors, many of whom were preferred recipients of stimulus packages, were waiting to mindlessly make the most of the situation. They started setting the terms and realising undue profits as if they are dead set to make up for the market slump suffered due to the pandemic. Intriguingly, the super rich reportedly amassed fabulous amount of wealth even during the most trying time people the world over were passing. Had it not been on account of market manipulation, there would be no cause for complaining against their outrageous gains of fortunes. How insensitive and cruel the so-called moneyed class can be is demonstrated by their syndicated move to raise prices at a time the poor and vulnerable people have lost employment or suffered income erosion! A large number of people have no money to purchase the bare necessities but who cares? There is an inflation manoeuvred with an ill intention. The government move to hike fuel oils like diesel, kerosene, jet fuel has only made the matter worse.

If the private sector economy thrives, it follows that its main driving engine---the workers get their fair share. Unfortunately, this has not been the case not only in Bangladesh but also in many other large economies now going quite strong. In fact, accumulation of wealth has been possible right from the beginning of the industrial revolution on account of exploitation of the working class. Situation may have improved over the past 200 years but there is left much to be desired, particularly when socio-economic justice is concerned.

Even the outsize once-in-a-century trauma suffered by the human kind was not enough to create the insight into the impermanence of life on this planet. Shakespeare's Shylocks in their new garbs are out to usurp the rights of the underprivileged and leave them in untold penury. Unjust and irrational market mechanism reigns  because the fortunate few have unquenchable thirst for wealth. In countries like the USA, large conglomerates at least have to appear before Congressional  hearing on charge of monopolising market but in countries like Bangladesh the big fish in no way have to be accountable. This explains widening disparities and rise in crime in society. The system does not protect the people's but a few coteries' interests. It is time the system changed in order to secure the rights of the underprivileged.

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