Millers have increased the prices of salt further, making an excuse that the crude salt price went up at the growing hubs due to lower production than that of the industry’s demand.
The refined salt was selling higher at Tk 28-Tk 42 a kilogramme (kg) in the retail market now from Tk 25-Tk 38 a kg a week back.
Market observers, however, attributed it to domination of big millers and allied traders in jacking up the prices and forcing the consumers to buy at rates, which were much higher than that of the growers’ level.
The prices soared immediately after allowing the private sector to import 0.5 million tonnes of salt.
The refined iodized salt of different brands increased to Tk 40-Tk 42 a kg now from Tk 36-Tk 38 in the last week while coarse salt to Tk 28-Tk 30 a kg from Tk 26-Tk 28.
Md Lokman, a grocer at Karwan Bazar said that the companies had informed them ten days back and the latest prices became effective from Wednesday last.
He said the prices of loose salt also increased at the Moulovibazar wholesale market by Tk 30-35 per maund (37.32 kg) in last ten days.
Bangladesh Tariff Commission (BTC) member (TPD) Abdul Quaiyum told the FE that the private millers have submitted a proposal to the commission for raising the prices of salt. “We are yet to review it.”
ACI, Molla, Pubali, Madhumoti and few other companies sent letter to the BTC three weeks ago, requesting a hike in prices of the product, sources said.
Managing director of Madhumati Salt Industries (Pvt) Ltd Md. Omar Faruk (Mithu) said salt companies have informed the BTC about the production loss of salt due to cyclone and heavy rain.
He said the crude salt prices increased to Tk 1,350-Tk 1,400 per sack (75 kg) this year at the growers’ level in Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar than that of maximum Tk 1,300 last year.
According to the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), production of salt was 1.3 million tonnes against a demand for 1.66 million tonnes this year. Last year, the production was 1.5 million tonnes.
Molla Salt general manager Md Abdul Mannan said the statutory regulatory order (SRO) to facilitate imports is yet to be published. The prices of salt would fall as soon as the imported salt would start entering into the country.
He said the traders were in a hurry to import the essential item before the Eid-ul-Azha when the tanners will require minimum 0.2 million tonnes.
The salt import is conditional in Bangladesh to safeguard the local growers. The government permits import in case of any shortage in the domestic market.
Secretary of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan told the FE that prices of salt started declining in Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar after allowing imports.
He said the CAB found the prices of crude salt declined to Tk 14.0-Tk 14.66 per kg from Tk 17-Tk 18 in last two weeks.
Big millers and their allied traders should be brought under strong scrutiny to keep prices of the commodity within the reach of limited income groups, said the CAB secretary.
He urged the BTC to review the prices of salt to give limited income consumers a sort of relief.