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Bangladesh Govt sacks commerce ministers

PM Khaleda Zia made the changes amid growing criticism of the Govt's failure to halt the rise in the price of essential food items.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2006 13:10 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has sacked both her commerce ministers, the government said on Tuesday, amid criticism they had failed to curb rising food prices.

Commerce minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury, a former national air force chief, has been replaced with water resources minister Hafizuddin Ahmed, said a statement issued by the government's press information department.

Chowdhury becomes a minister without portfolio, the statement added.

Junior commerce minister Barkatullah Bulu was also replaced and transferred to the women and children affairs ministry as an advisor.

Zia, who leads a four-party Islamist-allied coalition government with a mandate until October 2006, made the changes amid growing criticism of the government's failure to halt the rise in the price of essential food items.

The cost of essential items is a sensitive political issue in Bangladesh where nearly half the 140 million population lives on less than one dollar a day. 0 The government hands over to a caretaker government in October with parliamentary elections scheduled for January 2007.

The cost of sugar, pulses and many other essential items has risen steeply over the last few months, making Chowdhury unpopular and prompting critics to accuse him of not trying hard enough to keep prices under control.

Prices of 45 essential items increased by at least 6.0 per cent in the first quarter of 2006, with sugar prices rising by more than 50 per cent, according to a quarterly report of the Consumer Association of Bangladesh.

The consumer watchdog blamed the government for the hikes, saying it had failed to prevent illegal price manipulation by vendors.

First Published: Apr 25, 2006 13:10 IST