Zarif Mahmud: In the last few days, soybean oil is being sold in the market without heeding the price fixed by the government. One after another traders and stockists are counting fines in the campaign to protect consumer rights. Yet the reins are not coming at a price. There are also allegations of taking more than Tk 40 to 50 per liter. There are also reports of bottled soybean oil disappearing from stores. The instability in the oil market has not ended yet. According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the price of soybean oil has risen by Tk 63.80 per liter in the last five years. In 2021, the price has increased almost every month. Which was Tk 56.11 per year. This information was obtained by analyzing the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the month of January 2022 provided by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). Soybean oil also has an impact on the country’s inflation, the company said.
BBS updates show that fish, meat, broiler chicken, vegetables, fruits, spices, dairy and other foods, rice, lentils (chicken) and anchor pulses, local onion, gram, garlic, open flour and packet flour, salt, Soybean oil and the farm’s chicken eggs, including the price of 746 products regularly published inflation BBS. Basically, the inflation rate is calculated from 400 items per month.
Mohammad Tajul Islam, director general (additional secretary) of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, told that inflation is calculated from 400 daily necessities every month. It also contains soybean oil. There is also an account of how much is used. We have two markets in each of the 64 districts. Besides, there are 12 outlets in Dhaka. This calculation was done from 64 outlets and 12 outlets in Dhaka.
According to BBS sources, in January 2016, the price of soybean oil was Tk 98.30 per liter. In January 2019, the price increased to Tk 98.69. In January 2020, the price rose to Tk 96.15. The price of 2021 is a big jump. In one leap it increased to Tk 121.60. Prices continue to rise throughout the year. Finally, in December, the price rose to Tk 158.26. In January 2022, it increased to Tk 160.10.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, in the fiscal year 2020-21, the country produced a total of five lakh 65 thousand 756 metric tons of oilseeds. Production in 2019-20 is five lakh 56 thousand metric tons. In other words, last year the production increased by 26 thousand tons or 5 percent. In the previous year, the production had increased by 36,000 tons or 7.32 percent. In the 2018-19 financial year, oil seed production was five lakh 16 thousand tons.
Several companies in the country import soybean oil. These companies import unrefined soybeans and market them after refining. Several companies market oil by importing and processing soybeans. In two ways, the country’s annual demand of 12-13 lakh tons of soybean oil is met. As such, the demand for soybean is around one lakh tonnes per month. However, this demand increases a bit during Ramadan.
In the fiscal year 2020-21, 8 lakh 75 thousand tons of crude soybean oil was imported. About 24 lakh tonnes of soybean seeds yield 4 lakh 33 thousand tonnes of oil. Excluding waste, about 12 lakh tonnes of soybeans have been imported.
The reason for the rise in oil prices in the country is mainly the rise in the international market. However, experts claim that the price of soybean oil in the international market is increasing at a higher rate than the rate at which it is increasing.
Khandaker Golam Moazzem, research director at the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), told that the government was monitoring soybean oil prices to control them, a good initiative. Monitoring must continue. It should continue till Ramadan. Monitoring at retail, dealer and importer level. Then no one will be able to take the opportunity. Moreover, there will not be much benefit in reducing the tariff. This will benefit the traders more than the consumers.
‘The government may have done it out of its political commitment. In order to keep the supply in the market normal. If the government can inform the consumer about the market supply situation, it would be a very good initiative. Can import itself. If the government supplies imported oil, the market will come under control.
Regarding the gradual increase in prices since 2016, Khandaker Golam Moazzem said that oil production in the country is not high. Oil prices are rising due to the international market. This is happening because it is growing abroad. However, the country is growing more than the international market. The competition commission can work for that.
Bangladesh Competition Commission has taken to the field to control the price of soybean oil. The company will take disciplinary action against anyone who deliberately raises the price of soybean oil. In the meantime, a three-member search team has been formed to conduct the search operation as per the relevant section of 2012. The commission has asked for information from anyone who has received anti-competitive activities in the market.
Bangladesh Competition Commission Chairperson Mofizul Islam told, “We are in the field whether the big importers are having more influence on the price of soybean oil.” Information is being taken from all those involved in the supply chain, especially dealers, wholesalers and suppliers. I have formed a three-member committee. We are looking for information in the market. Punitive action will be taken against those involved.
What measures will be taken if soybean oil prices are affected? In response to such a question, he said that if it is proved, 1 to 10 percent of the average turnover of the last three years will be fined. If the order is not obeyed, I will file a criminal case. I will take action if involved in the syndicate. We landed on the field. If anyone complains, action will be taken on the basis of anonymity.
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