The Ministry of Commerce has formed a committee to set the prices of edible oil in keeping with the international market.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi announced the decision after a weekly meeting of the ministry’s commodity price monitoring cell on Sunday.
Bangladesh imports 90 per cent of its cooking oil. “The surge in prices in the international market has an impact,” he said.
Cooking oil was sold at $700 per tonne in July and rose to as high as $1,190 before settling down to $1,100. “It means global prices have left an impact on the local markets,” Munshi said.
Unpacked soybean oil now retails in the market at Tk 130 per litre, which was Tk 90 three months ago. The oil which was sold at Tk 95 now costs Tk 125. “The price hike is unprecedented.
Munshi said, “We discussed what the prices should be in line with the international market. The result of the meeting is that we will work a way out to determine what price would be logical. A committee has been formed to monitor the local and international markets.”
“In the meeting, we came up with the decision to set up this committee to analyse the matter in scrutinising details with the Tariff Commission, the commerce ministry and traders.”
The traders told the ministry that the import duty on the edible oil had been executed in a single stage but now it has been divided into four. They requested the ministry to revert to the single-stage duty procedure to avoid hassles.
On this, Munshi said, “We have sent a letter to the National Board of Revenue on the matter but are yet to get a reply. Now we will send a letter again,”
According to the ministry, about 70-72 per cent of the edible oil sold in Bangladesh a year is unpacked. Munshi said the government is trying to market more bottled oil to control the quality and maintain supply chain discipline.
“The price fluctuation will be minimal if more bottled oil is sold. Not just for the prices, it is also important to maintain quality. The Ministry of Industries is putting more effort into this.
“We will try to make it so that 70 per cent of the bottled oil can be marketed within the next year or a year and a half. People will also be freed from fake products.”
In the meeting, the traders urged the minister to consider the three months they take to bring oil to consumers after purchasing from the international market.