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Sugar, edible oil refiners under intelligence watch

Staff Correspondent: Refiners and traders Friday blamed each other for the sudden scarcity of sugar supplies in local markets, which was created-following the fixation of its maximum selling prices by the government.

The government at a meeting with the refiners and traders on July 20 fixed the maximum retail price of sugar at Tk 65 per kg.

The meeting also fixed the maximum retail price of soyabean oil at Tk 109 per litre and palm oil at Tk 99 per litre.

After the fixation of the prices, most of the retailers had stopped selling sugar as they were to buy the item higher than the government-fixed rate from the wholesalers.

A visit to some city markets revealed that the supply of sugar had almost ‘run out’ from the markets on Friday.

Although a small number of retailers were seen to sell the item, its prices were much higher than the government’s fixed rate. The prices in the retail markets ranging between Tk 70 and Tk 75 per kg on the day.

Retailers, however, claimed that they were to buy sugar from the wholesalers at a higher price than the government-fixed rate. So, they stopped selling item to avert losses.

“I am not selling sugar because I have to incur loss -es if I follow the government-fixed price,” a retailer at Kawran Bazar told the FE, preferring anonymity.

He also said despite having their stocks, some of the traders at the same market also stopped selling sugar after the fixation of its rate by the government.

Md Gholam Mawla, joint secretary of Moulovi Bazar Babosayi Samity alleged that the wholesalers were not getting the required volumes of sugar from the refiners/millers in time.

While talking to the FE, Chairman of Meghna Group, a local sugar refiner, Mostafa Kamal ruled out the case any supply scarcity of the item in the market.

“There is no supply shortage of sugar in the market as both the refiners and the government have sufficient stocks to cope with the domestic requirement, specially during the month of Ramadan,” he said adding his refinery would resume refining sugar within a week, production of which remained shut for several weeks.

To meet the increased demand for sugar during Ramadan, TCB has decided to sell 30,000 tonnes of sugar, 25,000 tonnes edible of oil, 2000 tonnes of chickpeas and 1,000 tonnes of dates.

Bangladesh depends much on imported sugar to meet its annual demand of 1.4 million tonnes, of which the state-owned sugar mills can supply around 0.12 million tonnes.

Private sugar refineries are the major suppliers of sugar in the local market.

On the other hand, the prices of loose edible oil were selling at Tk 109-110 per litre while the bottled one was selling at a significantly higher level than the government’s fixed rate, at Tk 120 per litre.

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