Sugar prices up 30pc in a month

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Sugar prices up 30pc in a month

Commerce minister’s assurance belied
Publication Date: 01 July 2016
Media: The Independent
E-paper Link: Sugar prices up 30pc in a month
The commerce minister’s bluster has been proved hollow, with the price of sugar skyrocketing by 12 per cent this week. This has left consumers with no choice but to spend more to sweeten their food in the run-up to the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr.
After holding a meeting with businessmen, wholesalers and retailers at the beginning of this month, commerce minister Tofail Ahmed had said the price of sugar would not go up to more than Tk. 60 per kg, as supplies of sugar were more than adequate. He had also warned that stringent action would be taken against those who artificially try to hike sugar prices. But the bitter fact is that sugar is being sold at more than Tk. 70 per kg! According to the latest data (of June 30) of the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the present price of a kilo of sugar is Tk. 67 to Tk. 70, in contrast to Tk. 62 to Tk. 65 last week. Sugar prices have made a whopping 12.30 per cent jump over the past month, badly pinching the pockets of middle-class families, the TCB sources said.
Again, the actual situation in the market is different, as the price is even higher than the price provided by the TCB.  TCB chairman Brig. Gen. Abu Saleh Md Golam Ambia told The Independent that they do not know anything about the recent spurt in sugar prices as they only monitor the market. “We don’t know why the price has increased. We only monitor the market and place the data before the ministry,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Nabi, a wholesaler at Karwan Bazar Kitchen Market, told The Independent, “The imported white sugar cost Tk. 2,200 per sack (50 kg) at the beginning of the Ramadan but now the price is Tk. 3,300.” It means the price of each sack of sugar has risen by Tk. 1,100. After talking to a number of retailers and wholesalers, it was learnt that a syndicate is controlling the sugar market by creating an artificial crisis. Following repeated mobile courts at the country’s wholesale market at Khatunganj in Chittagong, Mir Group has been compelled to sell sugar at Tk. 50 per kg, but a new syndicate is buying sugar from Mir Group and selling the same sugar allegedly for Tk. 60–61 per kg at the wholesale market in Khatungonj.
This syndicate, allegedly comprising National Traders, Sabbir Traders and Siddique Traders, is selling the sugar at high prices after buying it from Mir Group. Thanks to this syndicate, sugar prices have increased in the retail market.
Mir Group buys almost the entire sugar output of S M Sugar Mill, which has high demand in the local market.
A shop-owner said the wholesale traders have deliberately decreased the supply of Sugar and the Mir Group is selling the major portion of sugar to the syndicate. This syndicate is creating the artificial crisis in the market.
Sayed Sagir Ahmed, general secretary of Khatunganj Trade and Industries Association and owner of Sabbir Traders, was asked if his enterprise was involved in creating an artificial shortage of sugar in the wholesale market. “I don’t know this. We are buying sugar at Tk. 50 per kg from Mir Group and selling the sugar at Tk. 52 per kg,” he said.
A mobile court of the Chittagong district administration fined Mir Group two times for a total of Tk. 42 lakh for price manipulation and for holding traders hostage. The court also jailed Mir Mohammad Hossain, director of Mir Group, for a month for creating artificial sugar shortages and selling sugar at high prices by holding traders hostage in the Khatunganj wholesale market. The company is now selling the sugar at Tk. 50 per kg. But sources said after buying sugar from them, the new syndicate has created an artificial shortage of sugar in the market and is selling the sugar at high prices.
Manoj Kumar Roy, secretary of the commerce ministry, told The Independent that the market is now volatile because sugar prices have increased in the international market. He added that there were problems in two sugar mills, which may impact the market as well. “We are closely monitoring the market and trying to keep the supply chain uninterrupted,” he added.
Shamsuddin Illius
Shamsuddin Illius is a print and online media journalist. He has been working in the field (fulltime) of journalism since 2010. He is very much passionate about journalism since his early age. Currently he is the Bureau Chief-Chittagong at The Business Standard.

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