Cancel sugar export policy
A parliamentary body yesterday blamed the last caretaker and BNP governments for their "wrong policy" of allowing private companies to import sugar instead of state owned corporation.
The committee also recommended cancellation of the provision for sugar export.
The parliamentary standing committee on industries ministry also observed that the last caretaker government's policy of permitting export of sugar was a massive mistake when the country is in serious deficit of the essential item.
It also said the past BNP government allowed different private companies to import sugar while the caretaker government only Deshbandhu Sugar Mill at Narsingdi, which according the committee "led to manipulation" in sugar market.
The watchdog body urged the ministry to cancel the policy of exporting sugar immediately and acquire the stock--kept for export--from Deshbandhu and take steps to reduce the price of sugar below Tk 50 per kilogram.
The committee has also decided to investigate the matter including why the caretaker government took such decision of exporting.
"It is astonishing that the caretaker government gave permission to export sugar although the country was undergoing shortfall of sugar. It is quite clear that the policy is one of the reasons behind the unstable sugar market," Tofail Ahmed, chairman of the standing committee told reporters after the meeting at the parliament complex.
"The committee asked the ministry to cancel the provision immediately," said Tofail, also a ruling Awami League lawmaker.
Elaborating the issue, Tofail Ahmed said, the caretaker government only allowed Deshbandhu Sugar Mill to import as well as to export sugar and without floating any tender.
Comparing sugar demand and production in the country, Tofail said, "We just cannot understand how the caretaker government allowed exporting of sugar."
"The country's annual consumption of sugar is 14 lakh tons while it produces only 79,000 tons," he said.
Kamal Ahmed Mojumder, a member of the committee said the Deshbandhu Mill led syndication in sugar market causing crisis and abnormal price of the essential item.
He said due to caretaker government's policy, Bangladesh Sugar Corporation had to sell about 24 thousand tons of sugar to Deshbandhu Sugar Mill at Tk 33 per kg, which it exported to different European countries.
But the import price of sugar during the time was Tk 42 per kg, he added.
Later, Deshbandhu demanded more 12 thousand tons of sugar from Sugar Corporation at lower price and the state owned corporation allocated them six thousand tons.
"Of the six thousand, Deshbandhu exported only 851 tons and stocked the rest," he said.
"The committee asked authorities concerned to take steps to seize rest of the amount of sugar from Deshbandhu and sell it in open market," Tofail Ahmed told reporters.
The committee also observed that the present government's decision to allow tax-free import of sugar would not affect the market during the Ramadan as the move was made too late.
"We have heard that the caretaker government allowed exporting sugar to get the opportunity of quota system in EU countries. But can it be a reason to allow sugar export when we are in serious shortage of the product?" Tofail questioned.
Contacted, Hossain Zillur Rahman, former commerce adviser to the caretaker government, denied talking on the issue.
"I cannot talk on the matter in this way right now," said the former adviser.