Sugar price hike: JS body slams two ministers
A parliamentary watchdog yesterday came down heavily on Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun for the price spiral of sugar despite ample supply of the commodity.
In the last month, sugar imports increased 32 percent while the price of the commodity has held steady in the international markets. And yet, the price of sugar has increased in both the wholesale and retail markets.
For instance, yesterday, sugar was selling at Tk 90-93 a kilogram at the retail level, up from Tk 83-85 last month.
At the wholesale markets, the sweetener is selling at Tk 3,050 to Tk 3,080 a maund (37.32 kg). A month earlier, the price ranged from Tk 2,800 to Tk 2,830.
Subsequently, members of the parliamentary standing committee on the Industries Ministry blasted Humayun as well as Kamal Ahmed Mojumder, the state minister for industries.
Several MPs told the meeting at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban that people do not ask the minister about the price hikes but the MPs.
A ruling Awami League MP told the meeting that every time people ask him about the soaring price of the sweetener, he does not have a convincing reply that calms them down.
Another MP said the price hike of sugar has created a problem for them as well as for the government.
Subsequently, the parliamentary body asked the ministry to take necessary measures to bring the price of sugar under control.
However, sugar importers blamed the price hike on the depreciation of the taka, which has increased the import costs by 20-23 percent.
The price of sugar is stable in the international market and the import cost has also remained normal, said Biswajit Saha, director for corporate and regulatory affairs of City Group, one of the leading commodities players.
"But we are buying dollars by paying 20 to 22 percent more."
The amount paid to the export merchant is at the current dollar rate and not the rate when the letter of credit for the import was opened.
"Due to this reason, the prices of all kinds of imported products including sugar are increasing."
The price of the product has increased in the last month although the supply of the product is normal, said Mamunul Haque, a wholesale trader at the port city's Khatunganj market.
Data from the National Board of Revenue Board does support Saha and Haque.
In June, 1.46 lakh tonnes of sugar were imported for Tk 584 crore, meaning each tonne cost Tk 40,000.
The following month, 1.81 lakh tonnes were brought in for Tk 672 crore, with each tonne coming in at about Tk 37,127.
In the first 24 days of August, about 2.37 lakh tonnes of sugar worth Tk 1,039 crore were imported. This means each tonne cost about Tk 43,840.