The industries ministry has asked the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to provide data on import of salt and sodium sulphate for last three and current fiscal years.
The move aims at fixing the figures of the country's demand for salt, officials said.
To this effect, the ministry recently sent a letter to the revenue board, seeking the import data including names and addresses of the importers, volume of imports, import value and date, they added.
The fiscal years (FYs) are 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 and July to February of the current fiscal year, according to the industries ministry's documents.
In recent days, the demand for industrial salt has increased due to rapid expansion of the industrial sector in the country. For this, a huge amount of salt is being imported in the name of industrial salt, they also mentioned.
Last year, the government agencies concerned generated three separate sets of figures of the country's demand for salt, encouraging unscrupulous traders to import the essential item illegally and depriving the local salt farmers of fair price.
Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC) had put the figure at about 2.9 million tonnes of salt while the National Board of Revenue (NBR) estimated it to be around 2.4 million tonnes and the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) over 1.6 million tonnes.
Meanwhile, BTTC and NBR also provided separate statistics on salt import - 1.4 million tonnes and 0.9 million tonnes respectively in 2018.
Usually, BSCIC fixes the annual demand for salt with a 10 per cent annual growth commensurate with the growing population, a high official of the state agency told the FE.
The salt production target in the country has been set at 1.89 million tonnes in the current fiscal year (FY).
The domestic annual demand for the edible salt has been estimated at over 0.896 million tonnes for FY 2019-20. The rest of the salt will be able to meet the demand for industrial salt in the country.
The demand for salt for industrial use is over 0.9 million (9.5 lakh) tonnes a year.
Production of salt was over 1.8 million (18.24 lakh) tonnes against a demand for 1.6 million (16.57 lakh) tonnes.
The country produced 1.62 million tonnes of salt in the fiscal year 2015-16 and 1.66 million tonnes in the FY 2016-17, BSCIC sources said.
According to a source, some unscrupulous traders have allegedly been importing a huge amount of sodium chloride in the name of chemical items through false declaration.
As a result, the supply of salt surpassed the demand, bringing down the price for the producers. Besides, the government is being deprived of a huge amount of duty due to illegal import of salt.
An insider in the industries ministry said, "We want to stop importing sodium sulphate as we are being affected due to import of the item. The local farmers are not getting fair price for their salt."
Over 2.2 million (22.83 lakh) tonnes of various types of salt was imported in FY 2015-16, 1.8 million (18.44 lakh) tonnes in FY 2016-17, 2.2 million (22.52 lakh) tonnes in FY 2017-18, and over 0.75 million (7.58 lakh) tonnes in 2018-19, according to the central bank' data.
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