Finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Thursday proposed to impose 5 per cent duty on the import of onion and to increase the duty rate on Sodium Chloride import to protect the interest of local farmers.
He made the proposals while placing the national budget for the fiscal year 2020-21 in the parliament.
The minister said that the country’s growers were producing plenty of onions but were deprived of fair market prices due to the zero duty rate on imported onions.
‘Therefore, I propose a small rate of customs duty on onion import to ensure fair market price for onion farmers, encouraging onion cultivation and reducing dependency on imports,’ Kamal said in his budget speech.
He also proposed to reduce advance income tax on local supply of 26 essential items including onion, rice, garlic and wheat to 2 per cent from current 5 per cent.
AIT on import of sugar and garlic has also been proposed to reduce to 2 per cent from 5 per cent.
According to the official data, Bangladesh produces more or less 20 lakh tonnes of onions per year and imports nearly 10 lakh tonnes of the commodity.
Every year, the price of onion decline in April-May during the harvesting season and farmers are deprived of fair prices due to the duty-free import of the item.
Last year, the price of onion topped Tk 250 a kg in the country in October November as India imposed a ban on onion export during the off-season.
The country withdrew the ban on onion export in February when the harvesting of the crop began in full swing in Bangladesh.
The growers witnessed a sharp fall in the price of onion in the country in March this year due to its duty-free import from India.
The minister also proposed to raise the customs duty on the import of industrial salt (sodium sulfate) to 15 per cent from the existing 5 per cent to protect the salt farmers.
He said that while the import of edible salt (Sodium Chloride) was restricted in the country, the import of industrial salt was not and edible salt was being imported by mis-declaring them as industrial salts.
‘As a result, marginal salt farmers and salt mills were being deprived of fair market prices. Therefore, I propose to increase the existing duty rate on industrial salt (sodium sulfate/disodium sulfate) to protect the salt farmers by ensuring that they get the fair market prices, and to mitigate public health risks,’ Kamal said.
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