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Commodity market: Tipu rules out possibility of supply crunch

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Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has ruled out the possibility of any supply crunch of edible oils, wheat and onion in the local market because of adequate supply of these commodities.

"Soybean oil price is being fixed based on its actual import and other related costs," he said on Wednesday.

Mr Tipu said this at the second taskforce meeting on the review of essential commodity prices and market situation in the conference room of his ministry.

Edible oil prices are now high due to a price hike in the international market, he added.

The minister, however, said the country has sufficient stock of edible oils. Soybean oil now on the pipeline is to arrive here soon.

Soybean oil will be cheap once its prices in the international market come down, he added.

Mr Tipu emphasised producing more rice-bran oil to reduce the country's reliance on imported soybean.

He, however, said soybean oil is harmful for health.

He warned that the government will take stern action against those who sell soybean oil beyond fixed prices.

"It is not the government's duty to harass traders. There is no problem if they do business honestly," he said.

On Wednesday, a litre of bottled soybean sold at Tk 198-200 while loose oil at Tk 186-195 and loose super palm at Tk 178-180 at Dhaka's kitchen markets.

The minister, however, hinted no shortage of wheat as the country has a sufficient stock of the grain. "Right now the country has a sufficient stock of wheat…."

"…no problem of importing wheat from India on a government-to-government (G2G) basis. Besides, import can be possible by the private sector subject to getting prior government permission," he says.

Earlier, Indian slapped a ban on wheat export. But it exempted the neighbouring countries from the ban.

Bangladesh needs an estimated 7.0-million tonnes of wheat annually. Of them, it produces more than 1.23-million tonnes.

The country mainly imports wheat from Russia, Ukraine, Canada, India and Pakistan.

Mr Tipu further said Bangladesh has a sufficient stock of onion as well.

Increased import costs have put pressure on the country's forex reserve, he adds.

Senior commerce secretary Tapan Kanti Gosh chaired the meeting which was also attended by Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission chairman Md Afzal Hossain, Trading Corporation of Bangladesh chairman Brig Gen Md Ariful Hasan and City Group adviser Amitab Chakrabarty.

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