5 days ago

Govt approves import of 40m eggs

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After around one and a half months of egg prices surging to a record high of Tk 15 per piece, the commerce ministry on Sunday approved the import of 40 million eggs, a day's consumption in the country.

Bangladesh's daily demand for eggs is roughly 40 million, according to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock. Four private firms have got permission to import eggs.

Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh said more eggs could be permitted for import if necessary. Further decisions will be taken based on the supply and price situation in the local market.

The authorities did not specify any deadline or source country for the import. However, one of the companies mentioned that it is possible for them to import eggs from India in one week.

According to a commerce ministry official, the approved private importers are: Mim Enterprise, Tiger Trading, Prime Energy and Arnab Trading. He said each of them is permitted to import 10 million eggs, subject to five conditions, including sourcing the item from an avian influenza-free country.

In mid-August, egg prices soared to a record Tk 15 per piece, which later dropped to Tk 13-Tk 13.25. Amid the sharp market fluctuations, the commerce ministry set the maximum price of an egg at Tk 12 last Thursday.

However, the price remained at Tk 12.5-13.2 per piece in the market until Monday morning, according to city grocery stores.

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said their goal is to stabilise the prices, which is why they granted approval for the imports. He added that egg imports will continue until the market returns to normal.

Senior Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh said the four companies have not been provided with a specific timeline for importing the eggs, but they have been urged to expedite the process.

He noted that the necessary documentation and logistics may take some time to initiate the process.

Regarding the source country for the egg imports, Mr Ghosh said no specific country has been designated, leaving the choice to the importers. He said additional imports may be permitted if needed, contingent on market supply and price dynamics.

Saifur Rahman, the proprietor of Tiger Trading Ltd, told the FE that they applied for permission to import 100 million eggs but were granted approval for only 10 million.

"We could procure eggs from India within seven working days," he said. Rahman mentioned that the exportable egg price in India currently ranges from Tk 5.9 to Tk 7.2.

"We could supply it at below Tk 9 a piece, with the maximum retail price not exceeding Tk 10 a piece."

He said that in August of last year, six companies, including Tiger Trading, sought to import 510 million eggs in response to the record surge in egg prices in the domestic market. However, the fisheries and livestock ministry did not grant permission at that time.

SM Nazer Hossain, vice president of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh, appreciated the government's decision about egg import but pointed out that the limited import would only suffice for one day's demand.

He said the import process should be streamlined and the maximum retail price of imported eggs should be set by the commerce ministry at Tk 10 per piece, rather than Tk 12, if sourced from neighbouring India.

The consumer rights leader said safe eggs should be imported to prevent any potential influenza outbreaks from foreign sources.

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