Commerce minister Tipu Munshi on Sunday said traders have agreed to reduce the price of sugar by Tk 5 a kg from the first week of Ramadan.
The minister made the disclosure while briefing the media after the sixth meeting of the taskforce to review goods prices and market situations at the secretariat in Dhaka.
Earlier, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) on 26 February reduced regulatory duty on import of sugar by 5 per cent to 25 per cent from 30 per cent and withdrew Tk 3,000 specific duty on import of raw sugar and Tk 6,000 on refined sugar per tonne.
The move by NBR came following a request from the commerce ministry. At that time, traders said price of sugar might be dropped by Tk 5-5.5 a kg once sugar would be imported with reduced duty, but that did not happen.
At that time, price of sugar, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, was Tk 110-120 a kg, but price increased by Tk 5 a kg to Tk 115-120 a kg after the NBR’s announcement.
Minister Tipu Munshi told the newspersons, “It will be possible to reduce price of sugar by Tk 4.5 a kg due to reduction in duty, but we request the traders to decrease the price by Tk 5 a kg and they have agreed with us, and we hope price of sugar will decrease by Tk 5 a kg from the first week of Ramadan.”
Three weeks have passed since the NBR reduced the duty. “Sugar imported on reduced duty will be available in the next couple of days,” he said.
The month of Ramadan will begin on 23 or 24 March based on the moon sighting. The minister said, “Tomorrow (Monday), we will start monitoring whether traders are releasing goods at new price, if they don’t do so, we will give them three days and traders must abide by it.”
“People fear there is a shortage of sugar, but import of huge amount of sugar is in pipeline. So, there is nothing to worry about sugar. Traders will send sugar from mill gates to all places of the country at a rate of Tk 5 less than the regular price. Traders are positive. So, we want to tell the nation there is no reason to panic ahead of Ramadan,” Tipu Munshi said.
The minister further said they have decreased import of onion from India. “We did it so that our farmers get fair price. If we see price going up, restriction on import will be lifted.”
Replying a query on whether price of edible oil would drop in local markets due to fall in price in the international market, the minister said, “It is true edible oil price has fallen in the international market, but, unfortunately, price of dollar increased. Had the price of dollar not increased, we could have decreased edible oil price. Yet, we are looking into it.”