Soybean oil crisis: Govt cracks down on hoarders
An annoyed Shovon Das was walking home with a five-litre bottle of soybean oil from Shaheb Bazar in Rajshahi city yesterday afternoon. He had paid Tk 985 for it even though the government set the price at Tk 760.
Shovon was lucky that he ran into a team of the Directorate of National Consumers Right Protection (DNCRP) which took him back to the retailer and forced the shopkeeper to pay him back the additional sum he took from Shovon.
The team also fined the shop owner Tk 5,000.
Since Monday, police and DNCRP members have been raiding markets to stop retailers from overcharging consumers of soybean oil.
Some traders illegally stockpiled the edible oil creating an artificial crisis and many of them were caught when they started selling off the oil at higher prices, officials concerned said.
Hasan Al Maruf, an assistant director of the DNCRP in Rajshahi, said the unscrupulous traders were now selling soybean oil they bought earlier at lower rates.
Secretary of Bangladesh Vegetable Oil Refiners and Vanaspati Manufacturers' Association Nurul Islam Mollah in a press statement yesterday said the association would take action against its members if they were found involved in such practices.
Yesterday's data from the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh shows that non-bottled soybean oil was being sold at Tk 192 per litre against the government-set price of Tk 180 per. Bottled soybean oil was being sold for Tk 200 against the government rate of Tk 198; non-bottled palm oil was being sold for Tk 178 a litre against Tk 172.
The DNCRP team that helped Shovon raided the store of one Humayun Kabir who claimed he had no soybean oil in stock. The team, however, discovered 132 five-litre bottles in his warehouse.
It fined Kabir Tk 20,000 and another in Bahrampur Bazar Tk 50,000 for overcharging.
A police team in Rajshahi's Baneswar Bazar seized 93,000 litres of illegally stocked soybean oil.
The law enforcers seized 20,400 litres of oil from a trader in Bagmara on Monday night and 6,000 litres more yesterday from the trader's brother's warehouse.
In Mohadevpur of Naogaon, another DNCRP team caught Masudur Rahman, a TCB dealer, when he was selling TCB's bottled soybean oil as non-bottled oil.
The team seized 70 two-litre bottles from Masudur's shop and fined him Tk 10,000.
Over the last 10 days, DNCRP officials in Kushtia recovered 40,000 litres of edible oil.
In Ullapara of Sirajganj, a DNCRP team fined three traders Tk 17,000 and seized 6,000 litres of edible oil.
A DNCRP team fined Shyamol Dutta, a grocer in Ishwardi, Tk 20,000 for the illegal stockpile of 18,244 litres of edible oil.
In Gazipur, a DNCRP team seized 2,056 litres of soybean oil from a store in the Board Bazar area and fined store owner Monir Hossain Tk 2 lakh.
The authorities arranged the sale of all the recovered oil at MRP.