Onion market still unstable
Minister blames dishonest traders: Import from Turkey, Egypt on cards
Staff Reporter :
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi on Wednesday blamed dishonest traders for sudden abnormal price hike of onions in local markets.
He also blamed panic buying by a section of consumers for price hike of the popular cooking ingredient.
"Unscrupulous traders had taken advantage of the situation after India stopped onion export. Consumers are also buying more onions which is also responsible for price hike," he said.
"Don't panic. We will take action against the dishonest traders," the minister said at a press conference in his secretariat office in Dhaka.
There was no need to panic about onion price as there was plenty stock in the country.
"Our country has a demand of one million tonnes of onion till next season. We have about 600000 tonnes. There is a shortage of 400000 tonnes. We have opened LC to import onions from Turkey and Egypt,' it was told in the briefins.
"There may be a bit problem due to sudden ban by India. It will be brought from other countries including Turkey, Egypt and Holland in the next 30 days. Then there will be no problem," he said.
The Minister said that his Ministry was not aware about the sudden ban on onion export by the neighbouring country, requesting the consumers not to buy beyond daily need.
Replying to a query, Tipu Munshi said, "I cannot say whether any politics are working behind banning export of the commodity. We thought there might be price hike, but we were not prepared for sanction."
"Nevertheless, I talked to Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das about the sudden ban of onion export from her country. The high commissioner assured me that a good number of onion laden trucks will enter Bangladesh within a day or two," Tipu Munshi said.
The Minister repeatedly claims that there is nothing to be panicked because there is sufficient stock and supply of onions in the local markets.
He assured that the government will continue selling onion by TCB till March next year and the commodity will be sold through E-commerce in lower prices.
On spot visit in the capital's Shambazar wholesale kitchen market and and retail markets at Gandaria and other on Wednesday, it was found that the panic buying decreased slightly, but the price has not reduced.
In Shambazar, the indigenous variety of onion was found selling per kg at Tk 75 to 78 as whole sale rate. The Indian variety was selling at Tk 60 per kg.
In retail markets the indigenous variety were selling by Tk 100 and the lower grade onions and Indian species were selling at Tk 80 per kg.
All of those items were sold bellow Tk 35-40 to Tk 55-60 per kg before Indian ban on export.
India on Monday prohibited the export of all varieties of onion except in cut, sliced or powdered form.
Dhaka requested Delhi to withdraw the ban.
Besides, several hundreds of onion laden trucks are waiting to cross border to enter Bangladesh in different land ports.
Importers' sources said, after completing every procedures including opening LC, about 450 trucks are awaiting for their central government's permission in those ports areas in India.
Among those, more than 200 trucks are at Hili land port, 150 in Bhomra land port and 70 trucks at Benapole land port.
On the other hand, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said on Wednesday that the government will consider a proposal over duty cut on onion import to lessen sufferings of people.
"We don't want people's sufferings to increase. We don't expect it. Neither the Prime Minister, nor me, or any one expect that," he told journalists after a virtual meeting of cabinet committee on government purchase.
Earlier on the day Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi called the authorities concerned to lower the 5.0 per cent duty on onion import until 2021.