Commerce minister Tipu Munshi on Tuesday questioned the integrity and approach of a quarter of traders and said that some of the importers were importing onions at a cost of Tk 40 a kilogram but selling at exorbitant prices.
‘Those who do not prefer humane approach during crisis they cannot be good business persons. They are profit monger,’ the minister said at a meeting on the price increase of essential commodities organised by Awami League sub-committee on industry and commerce affairs at a city hotel.
About the demand of his resignation in the wake of the government’s apparent failure in controlling prices of essential commodities, he said that he could resign at any moment.
‘Some have demanded my resignation for the price hike of onion. I will step aside any moment, if it will bring down the onion prices,’ the commerce minister said.
He said that the price of onion increased in the country as India imposed ban onion export.
Awami League joint general secretary Jahangir Kabir Nanak, former president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed and traders of essential commodities attended the meeting.
Tipu Munshi said that City Group, S Alam Group and Meghna Group were importing onions from Turkey and Egypt and the groups were supplying the item at Tk 42 a kg to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh without any profit.
Besides, some businesses are importing onions through Chittagong port at a cost of Tk 40 a kg but they were selling the item at high prices in the market, he said.
In September, October and November, Bangladesh need to import 1 lakh tonnes of onion each month but in September the import was 25,000 tonnes and in October it was 24,000 tonnes, the minister said.
‘We have learned from the crisis and we are taking policy to be self-sufficient. Within three years we will be self-sufficient in producing onion and during the harvesting season this year we will impose ban on Indian onion import so that our growers can get fair price of the crop,’ Tipu Munshi said.
The price of the onion shot up by Tk 15-20 to Tk 55-65 a kilogram in Bangladesh on September 14, the next day, depending on the variety.
On September 29 when India imposed a ban on onion export, the price hit Tk 120 a kilogram the following day, on September 30, in Dhaka’s kitchen markets.
The price topped Tk 250 a kilogram across the country on November 15.
Amid the price spiral of onion, the commerce ministry requested some big business groups to import the item to bring the situation under control.
After the government initiatives, the supply of onions started to improve in the market with the prices being slightly down but after two to three days the prices started to increase again from November 20.
The local variety of onion was sold at Tk 240-250 a kilogram in the city markets on Tuesday, while the imported Egyptian varieties at Tk 180-190 a kg.
Myanmar onions were retailing for Tk 200- 220 a kg while the China item for Tk 160-170 a kg on the day.
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