TK, S Alam, Bangladesh Edible Oil, Bashundhara involves in market manipulation?
Staff Correspondent: The Directorate of National Consumers Rights Protection has again asked representatives from four edible oil importers and suppliers – TK Group, S Alam Group, Bangladesh Edible Oil and Bashundhara Group – to appear before it after unconvinced by their explanations of the irregularities at their cooking oil mills.
They will have to appear before the DNCRP on Mar 6, said Manjur Mohammad Shahriar, director of the DNCRP, after a hearing yesterday.
It has also asked for a list of wholesale traders in Moulvibazar and Khatunganj to see if they are involved in price manipulation, he said.
Traders were charging at least Tk 30 higher than the price fixed by the government for every litre of edible oil. They blamed the recent rise in oil prices in the international market. There were also allegations that edible oil was not being sold in some areas.
The government later reduced VAT on imports and lifted VAT on production and refining in an effort to cool off the market.
In the meantime, the DNCRP began inspecting factories of oil suppliers and refiners, in addition to conducting raids on traders. During the inspections, some information was found to be ‘inconsistent’ and ‘irregular.’ The oil companies were then summoned by the DNCRP to unearth more information. The department also wanted to know the amount of oil imported by the companies after the lifting of VAT.
“We recently visited the factories of the companies to monitor the supply situation in the market. Several irregularities and inconsistencies were found. Companies have supplied a lower amount of oil to the market in March than in February,” said Manjur.
Some secrets were also discovered and so a meeting was called for clarification, he said.
“We weren’t satisfied with the information provided to us. That is why we’ve called them for another hearing.”
Unscrupulous traders will not have the opportunity to increase prices during Ramadan this time, he said.
Manjur also added that the government priced edible oil at Tk 180 per litre and asked the public to call the DNCRP hotline 16121 if any traders charged more than that.
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