Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has said reopening of markets from May 10 is not mandatory for businesspeople.
"It is up to the businessmen whether they will reopen their shops before Eid. But if anyone wants to reopen their shops they will have to do so strictly following health guidelines," he said, adding, "Roadside shops cannot be opened."
The commerce minister said this at a press briefing held at the Secretariat on Thursday.
On Tuesday, the Cabinet Division and the Ministry of Commerce decided to allow shopping malls and shops to remain open till 4pm every day from May 10. Health Minister Zahid Maleque and health experts, however, expressed apprehension that the reopening of shopping malls and shops might exacerbate the coronavirus situation. Against this backdrop, the authorities of Bashundhara City Shopping Complex and Jamuna Future Park have decided not to reopen the malls before this Eid-ul-Fitr.
When asked as to how shoppers will travel if there is public transport, Minister Tipu Munshi said the government will divide the Dhaka city into several zones and will ask shoppers to shop in markets near their homes.
"It is not likely that there will be a huge rush of buyers in the markets. Only those who have urgent needs will go shopping. And sellers will decide on their own whether they will open their shops," he added.
There will be no crisis of everyday essentials, at least for the next four months, the commerce minister said, adding that the country has enough stock of such commodities.
The state-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) will start selling onion at Tk25 a kilogram from Saturday.
He informed the media that a shipment of onions has been loaded on a train in Nasik, India and that the shipment will reach Bangladesh within the next few days.
The minister also claimed that the prices of essential commodities are at tolerable levels. Acknowledging that the government has not been able to bring the prices of cumin and cloves under control, he, however, said an additional secretary is working on in this regard.
"Some dishonest businessmen in collusion with TCB dealers have tried to take undue advantage by taking the consumers hostage. But such incidents have come down over the past one week as the government has taken a hard stance against these unscrupulous businessmen," Tipu Munshi continued the Directorate of Consumer Rights Protection will continue to conduct across the country to control the market.
Goods will be brought from India through railways, the commerce minister said, adding that the shipments will come through Benapole, Birol, Darshana and Radhikapur routes. The decision will be finalised at an inter-ministerial meeting on Sunday, he said.
The Benapole port has been closed three days after its reopening due to local politics in India, the commerce minister said. He added that there 2,200 Bangladesh-bound trucks are stuck on the Indian side of the Benapole port while 200 India-bound trucks are stuck on the Bangladesh side of the port.
Pointing out that a major portion of jute seeds are imported from India, Tipu Munshi said 300 tonnes of jute seeds have come from India through Benapole in the last three days. In this regard, the government has sought cooperation from the Indian High Commission in Dhaka.
The government has also urged the Indian government to keep the Chengrabandha and Banglabandha ports operational to keep trades with the Indian states of Assam and Tripura normal.
While talking about the apparel sector, the minister said the government has requested the commercial councils of 21 countries to take measures so that foreign buyers do not cancel orders or want discounts from the Bangladeshi suppliers. A letter will be sent to them in this regard by Saturday, he added.
The commerce minister also said the government will take action against any factory owners if they sack any worker amid the coronavirus crisis