Onion Prices Continue To Rise
Opening of new import L/Cs not in sight
Published : Sunday, 22 September, 2019 at 12:00 AM Count : 66
Onion prices in the kitchen market all over the country are still rising as import from India remains virtually stalled. Onion earlier imported from India sells at Tk 75 per kg in retail market on Saturday compared to Tk 25-30 earlier.
Its price even increased by Tk 5 to Tk 10 per kg over the past two days as the market remains unchecked in absence of any credible government move to control prices or ease the supply situation opening new imports from other sources as the commerce ministry last week said.
Trading circles said no import L/Cs were opened in the past few days to import onion from sources other than India such as from Egypt, Turkey or Myanmar. No new L/Cs were also opened to import onion from India while import consignments in the pipelines against earlier booking remained stuck up as the Indian Customs are pressing for amending the previous L/Cs in tandem with new export price tag.
Trading circlers also said banks have not lowered L/C margin nor notified lowering of interest as the commerce ministry last week told the media for allowing onion import at low cost. Virtually there is no visible move to clear the onion in the pipeline from India or to import it from newer sources.
"The government utterances seem to be empty rhetoric to befool the people" said SM Nazer Hossain, vice president of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB)- the lone organization working as watch dog on the market situation.
He said the government must act quickly to check market syndicates now realizing several times higher prices taking advantage of the situation. Dishonest traders are robbing people while the government is watching without action. It is a totally chaotic situation, he said.
Meanwhile, the government has started only limited open market sale (OMS) of onion in the capital at just five places so far in the city streets. It is just peanuts in view of the huge demand by common people as regular cooking ingredients in every house.
Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) also has not taken any move to import onion as earlier announced virtually handing over the market and common people to syndicates. Traders are making illegal fortune at their will.
A visit to the city kitchen market shows that onions prices increased by Tk 5 to Tk 10 per kg over the past two days in continuation of the rise from last Friday-the day India fixed onion export price at US$ 850 per tonne.
Meanwhile prices of local onion has similarly soared and selling between Tk 85 and Tk 90 per kg on Saturday. There is a growing fear that if massive import is not lined up soon, greedy traders will take advantage of the situation to slow the release of their stock to create more artificial supply crisis. Lack of government action will create a critical situation, trading circle said.
Nazrul Islam, owner of Akhi General Store at Karwan Bazaar kitchen market told the Daily Observer that onion stock is fast falling at a time the season is almost over. A break in import will play havoc in the market," he said.
According to the Agriculture Extension Department (DAE), a total of 23 lakh tonnes of onions were produced in 2018-19 out of total demand 24 lakh tonnes. Over ten lakhs tonnes were imported and the large part of it came from India.