Still sugar crisis…
* Packaged sugar sold at affordable prices
* Loose sugar sold at Tk 8-13 more
Mahfuja Mukul: The country’s sugar market is still unstable. Consumers have to buy sugar at a higher price than the price fixed by the government. Even the withdrawal of duty on sugar import on February 26 is not showing any benefit. At that time, a duty of Tk 7 per kg and Tk 10 per kg was withdrawn from imported raw sugar. Still, sugar is seen to be sold at high prices.
Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), a government agency that keeps track of market prices, says sugar prices have increased by 49 percent in the last one year. Last year (2022) at this time, sugar was available in the range of Tk 78-80 per kg in the country. However, at the time of writing this report, it was seen that open sugar was being sold at Tk 120 in the market of the capital. And packaged sugar at Tk 140. Although open sugar is to be sold at Tk 107 per kg and packet sugar at Tk 112 per kg fixed by the government.
Meanwhile, the month of Ramadan is ahead. The demand for sugar in the country increased. According to the Ministry of Commerce, the demand for sugar during the month of fasting increases to 250,000 to 300,000 tonnes. And the businessmen of the country took advantage of this opportunity. As a result, traders expecting more profit during Ramadan are taking extra advantage in the sugar market. In the beginning, some activities of the Ministry of Commerce along with the National Directorate of Consumer Rights Protection were seen to control the prices, but with time it was relaxed.
Meanwhile, traders are blaming each other for the instability in the sugar market. The mill owners are blaming the market syndicate. And the traders in the market say that they have to buy sugar at a higher price from the millgate.
Meanwhile, the Russia-Ukraine war began. As a result, there is a dollar and energy crisis in the country. Because of this, there has been instability in the sugar market since July last year (2022). In this situation, in September of the same year, the government fixed the price of sugar for the first time. After that, the government increased the price three times. Still, the NBR reduced the regulatory duty by 5 percent at the import level at the request of the Ministry of Commerce as the prices were not brought under control.
Besides, the organization has withdrawn the import duty of Tk 3000 per ton of unrefined sugar and Tk 6000 on refined sugar. Which has an effect on the liberated sugar. That is, the price is supposed to decrease.
If you go to Rampura, Malibagh and Khilgaon Taltala markets of the capital to inquire about the price of sugar, it can be seen that open sugar has been sold at Tk 115-120 per kg. And packaged sugar is seen to be sold at Tk 120-140 depending on the brand and cane sugar from domestic mills up to Tk 150.
As a result, the price of sugar has not decreased in the last one month. In the meantime, the sugar crisis is often seen in the retail market. As a result, the sellers sell as they like by increasing the price. On the other hand, some companies are alleged to remove the maximum selling price from their packets so that retailers do not face the problem of selling sugar at high prices.
Sugar is mainly marketed in the country by City Group under Tir brand, Meghna Group under Fresh brand, Abdul Monem Group under Igloo brand.
Besides, TK Group, S Alam Group, Deshbandhu Group do sugar business.
About the price of sugar, Chairman of Deshbandhu Group Golam Mostafa told that the new sugar that will come will get the benefit of duty withdrawal. Now they are coming. If the government had done this work three months earlier to keep the Ramadan market stable, it would have reaped benefits at the right time.
He said that the price of sugar has increased in the world market. Besides, there is no doubt that the price of sugar is high in the country. This is because of marketing, people think the dollar crisis, prices may increase all together is a problem. Still, the price of sugar did not increase in Millgate. It is being sold at government prices. On the contrary, it has decreased by Tk 2 in the last few days.
Golam Mostafa said, due to the problem of marketing, consumers do not get those benefits. Traders can’t be controlled. They take it from the mill and sell it at a higher price in the market. Such commodities should be arranged for sale only through dealers. How the government fixes the price of fertilizers. Then you can see where the price is increasing.
Meanwhile, retail traders say that they are unable to buy sugar from the wholesale market at the price set by the government.
And the sellers of the wholesale market say that they are also not able to buy sugar from Millgate at the fixed price.
In this regard, Golam Mawla, a wholesale sugar trader and former general secretary of Moulvibazar Traders’ Association, told that the price of milled sugar has not decreased after the reduction of VAT, on the contrary, it has increased. Now the mills are supposed to give sugar to the dealers at the rate of Tk 102 according to the price set by the government. They are writing that price in DO, but under invoice is charging Tk 105-110.
He said, we have made this complaint in different quarters of the government. But there was no remedy. A few sugar mill syndicates are responsible for the price hike.
Meanwhile, the government has said that there will be no shortage of sugar in the upcoming Ramadan. Recently, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) urged the public to refrain from panic buying.
Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Tofazzal Hossain Miah said that the price of sugar will be low during Ramadan as the government has reduced the import tax on sugar and removed the tariff value.
According to the calculations of the Ministry of Commerce, the annual demand of sugar in the country is 18-20 lakh tons. This demand increases during fasting. But only 30-35 thousand tons are produced in the country. Only in the month of fasting, the demand for sugar increases to 250,000 to 300,000 tons. As there is no production in the country, most of the demand is met through imports.
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