Ignoring local stocks
Mahfuz Emran: Import of table salt is prohibited in the country. However, if the production is low, the government occasionally gives the opportunity to import. In the last five financial years, there has been an opportunity to import three points of salt. It has been proposed to import three lakh tonnes of salt in the current financial year. And by using this opportunity, a quarter is making huge profit by importing salt. The local salt industry is suffering the most. Decreasing farmers, decreasing production.
It is known that if we can import salt by showing artificial deficit, the profit of hundreds of crores of taka will go to the pockets of the importing syndicate. On the one hand, they are making more profit by selling salt imported from India at lower prices, on the other hand, under the pressure of imported salt, the salt produced by the local farmers is being taken away at a lower price.
Not only importing salt with government permission, but also smuggling of salt is a desperate cycle. Through them also a lot of edible salt is coming to the country every year. This cycle is releasing imported salt directly into the market in the name of chemical factories. There is a lot of profit in that too.
According to sources, the cost of salt purchased from India with government permission is Tk 2 per kg. Chemical salt can also be imported chemically from China at such a low price. As well as caustic soda, the neatly prepared vacuum evaporated salt comes in the name of industrial salt. If you can bring it to the market, the profit is several times. The data says that at present, the import duty on edible salt is 69 percent, while in industrial salts (including caustic soda) it is 43 percent. Therefore, it is possible to make more profit by importing edible salt in the name of industrial salt.
On the other hand, a section of the government is also giving the opportunity to import more salt from time to time. In the current financial year also, BSIC had recommended import of 300,000 tonnes of salt through the Ministry of Industries. That’s when the question of the need to import salt arose in various quarters. The Ministry of Commerce has not yet given final permission to import the salt.
AHM Safiquzzaman, Additional Secretary, Department of Imports and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce told: As a result, permission was not given.
Mill owners, meanwhile, have been accused of misrepresenting the amount of salt produced in the country when BSCIC sought permission to import salt last month. They then claim that the company is giving the opportunity to import the produced salt even though it is more than the requirement.
However, several BSCIC officials claimed that it was recommended to import salt if necessary. However, they declined to comment on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the data says that the country imported two lakh tonnes of salt in the 2014-15 financial year, two and a half lakh tonnes in the following year and five lakh tonnes in the following year.
Traders are claiming that there was a real salt crisis in the 2016-17 financial year. It is reasonable to import salt that year. However, the amount of import could be less. Besides, the government has been affected in salt import and quantity determination in other years.
Meanwhile, another big problem like government imports is illegal industrial salt. According to the Bangladesh Bank and the National Board of Revenue, the country imported 6 lakh 57 thousand tons in the fiscal year 2018-19, 11 lakh 21 thousand tons in the next financial year and 4 lakh 69 thousand tons in the last financial year.
In the last financial year, the number of importing companies was 2,006. Most of these salts have been brought as industrial salt. But no company is looking for these ghostly imports and organizations.
Bipul Kanti Saha, director of Pubali Salt Industries, told that the government has taken up the issue of salt import. Interrupting when needed. Mill owners are importing salt in various ways without any need.
‘There are four or five big mills in the country. The government has taken different decisions at different times without taking into account the accounts of these mills. It didn’t do any good. Most of the time, the decision to import was wrong.
Regarding the import of excessive amount of industrial salt, he said, why these salts are not being prevented. Let’s talk to them and decide how much import is needed. Why is it being put in the way of the mill owners? He further said that in fact only middlemen benefit in this sector. Those who are not involved with the industry. And the loss is to the farmers, mill owners and people.
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