The government on Thursday decided to import 2 lakh tonnes of onions by March to ensure available supply of the item on the kitchen markets at reasonable prices during Ramadan, the fasting month for the Muslims.
The month of Ramadan, which usually sees an increased demand for a number of commodities including onions, will begin in April.
At a meeting with importers, wholesalers and retailers of essential commodities held at Bangladesh Secretariat in the capital, the commerce ministry decided that the country’s big business companies Meghna Group, City Group and S Alam Group would import 50,000 tonnes of onions each while state-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh would import 50,000 tonnes by March 31.
Commerce minister Tipu Munshi, parliamentary standing committee on commerce ministry chairman Tofail Ahmed, commerce secretary Md Jafar Uddin, Bangladesh Tariff Commission chairman Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Meghna Group chairman Mostafa Kamal and City Group director Bishwjit Saha attended the meeting, among others.
Importers and traders at the meeting said that the stock of essential commodities including edible oil, sugar, garlic, ginger and gram remained sufficient and no shortage of the items would take place on the markets during Ramadan.
Traders said that shortage of onions might take place during Ramadan and the government should analyse the supply situation of the item to keep the prices of the commodity normal during Ramadan.
Md Mazed, a wholesaler and importer, informed the meeting that the price of local variety of onions started increasing further due to a supply shortage of its early variety.
He said that the price of local variety of onions increased by Tk 10 a kilogram on Thursday and the item was selling for Tk 120-125 a kg in the city markets and the price would increase more as cyclone Bulbul damaged the farmlands of the early variety of onions.
Tofail said that import should be continued to ease the supply situation of onions on the local market as the dependency of local item would be risky to meet the increased demand during Ramadan.
‘Traders will not sell their products in loss but they should make profit at an acceptable limit,’ he said.
‘I do not see any syndicate in the market. Arrest of the traders would not bring any positive result rather the authorities should trust them to control the market,’ Tofail said.
He said that prices of some of the items increased on the market due to an increase in the dollar price and price hike of the items on the international market.
Tipu Munshi sought cooperation from the businesses so that prices of essential commodities remain stable on the market during Ramadan.
He said that the ministry would provide all-out support to the businesses of essential commodities but their (businesspersons) approach towards making profit should be logical and ethical.
‘India imposed a ban on export of onions on September 29 and the price of the item on our kitchen markets doubled on September 30. I think it was not logical or ethical,’ the minister said.
He also said that traders would make profits, but no one should try to be a rich person overnight through unethical practices.
Tipu Munshi requested the agriculture and food ministries to prepare data on the production, demand and stock situation of essential commodities.
Due to lack of proper data, it is very difficult to forecast the market situation and to take necessary steps, he said.
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