Price manipulation: BCC grills six entities

| Updated: October 02, 2022 10:20:07

Price manipulation: BCC grills six entities

Bangladesh Competition Commission (BCC) has questioned six business entities for their alleged involvement in price manipulation of a few essentials and toiletries.

The companies included Bashundhara Food and Beverage Industries Ltd, Square Toiletries Ltd, Erfan Group, Diamond Egg Ltd. and Nourish Poultry and Hatchery.

The commission directed the companies to submit their income, expenditure and business accounts for the last three years.

At the same time, the rice traders have been asked to submit samples of all types of rice they trade. The directives came at different hearings held at the BCC office in the city on Wednesday.

BCC Chairman Mofizul Islam, its members GM Saleh Uddin, AFM Manzoor Qadir and Nasreen Begum conducted the hearings, said the BCC sources.

The hearing was attended by the lawyers of the companies and representatives of several other organisations.

The owner of Majumdar Auto Rice Mill Brajen Majumdar or his representative was absent in the hearing.

Appearing in the case filed on the ground of rice and flour price hike, Bashundhara Food's head of sales and distribution department Redwanur Rahman and their lawyer Mamun Chowdhury claimed they didn't supply rice in the market. They distribute packaged flour in the market, he said.

He requested time to provide necessary information as per demand of the commission.

On flour price hike, Bashundhara Food representative said more than 80 per cent of the country's demand for wheat is met by import. But import has declined amid tensions in Russia and Ukraine while import from India has also stopped.

He pointed out that the production cost has increased due to a hike in the global price of the commodity while the freight charges also increased substantially, local currency depreciated significantly against the US dollar and the fuel oil prices soared in the local market. Those have had a cumulative impact on the prices of the products, he argued.

Chairman of the commission Mofizul Islam showed a photo of a packet of rice with Bashundhara tag.

He said: "If you are not distributing it, then you have to find out who is selling the rice using your brand."

The BCC instructed the company to appear before it on October 16 with the income and expenditure information as well as other trading documents for the last three years (2019-2021).

In the case of rice and toiletries, two lawyers of Square Toiletries appeared before the commission. They said that the company only distributes aromatic rice under the Chashi brand, not Miniket, and that their market share is also very low.

However, the company lawyers blamed price hikes of raw materials and US dollar volatility as the key reasons for reviewing prices of soap, shampoo.

The Commission ordered Square to appear before it on October 26 with detailed information about where from and what kind of rice they market as well as all data on rice samples and toiletries products' imports and distribution.

Nourish Poultry and Diamond Egg have also been asked to submit their documents on October 16.

The BCC filed 44 cases against 36 companies and individuals allegedly involved in price manipulation of rice, flour, egg, chicken, soap, detergent powder etc. Hearing on these cases has started from September 26.

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