Unilever, six others face Competition Commission hearing on profiteering charges Tuesday

Hearing opened with Kazi Farms, with its auction taking the Competition Commission chairman by surprise who believes the company fixed the price after auction 

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 26 Sept 2022, 06:37 PM
Updated : 26 Sept 2022, 06:37 PM

Bangladesh Competition Commission will hear on Tuesday nine cases against six firms, including Unilever, and one merchant on charges of destabilising the market by abnormally raising prices of essential commodities with the intention to profiteer.

They are involved in the production and marketing of rice, flour, egg, chicken and toiletries, according to a notice published on the commission’s website.

The nine firms and their representatives named in the notice include four in cases related to rice prices.

They are Abdur Rashid, proprietor of Rashid Agro Food, Belal Hossain, owner of Naogaon’s Belcon Group, and managing directors of City Group and Bangladesh Edible Oil Limited. City Group was also sued on charges related to flour prices.

For charges related to egg prices, managing director of Paragon Poultry and Tejgaon Egg Merchants Association President Amanat Ullah have been called to the hearing. Paragon Poultry also faces charges related to chicken prices.

The Unilever Bangladesh managing director has been summoned in a case over the prices of soap and detergent.

Shamima Akter, the company’s head of corporate affairs, said they received a letter from the commission for the hearing and will send a team of representatives.

The commission opened the hearings on Monday with Kazi Farms, which is accused of destabilising the egg and chicken markets.

After hearing Kazi Farms’s statement on the auction it holds daily for eggs, Competition Commission Chairperson Md Mofizul Islam said, “It’s a bizarre type of auction. The price is fixed on the highest bid in an auction. But it appears you fixed the price yourself after the auction.”

“It is difficult for me to understand your business policy. We're surprised.”

Kazi Farms failed to provide necessary information during the hearing and it got until Oct 6 to prepare the records.

Commodity prices have increased rapidly across the globe due to the Russia-Ukraine war amid heightened demand during the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

In Bangladesh, the prices of rice, soybean oil, sugar, cosmetics and toiletries, egg, chicken and other commodities have surged, prompting the authorities to check whether the companies raised the prices for proper reasons.

The Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection found irregularities leading to price hikes of some products. It held meetings with representatives of the companies and merchants.

The commission looked into the irregularities spotted by the directorate and reports of market manipulation before filing 44 cases.

Most of the cases were filed against businesses involved in rice trade, including 11 big organisations and eight corporate firms.

The others include eight involved in flour production and supply, six in egg production, six in broiler chicken production and marketing, and six in the production and marketing of soap and detergent.

OTHERS ON THE LIST

The Competition Commission on Monday published the list of 44 companies sued over price rises.

The others named in the cases over rice prices include Md Abdul Hannan of Zahura Auto Rice Mill in Dinajpur, Md Erfan Ali of Erfan Group in Chapainawabganj, Golam Kibria Bahar of Kibria Agro Industries Ltd in Bogra, Toufiqul Islam Babu of Mofizuddin Automatic Rice Mill in Naogaon, Alal Ahmed of Alal Agro Food Products in Bogura, Zahirul Khan Islam, proprietor of Nurjahan Agro Foods industries Ltd in Brahmanbaria, Putu Mia of Auto Rice Mill, Arshad Ali of Dada Auto Rice Mills in Kushtia and Brajen Majumder of Majumdar Auto Rice Mill in Naogaon.

Those named in the cases over rice prices also include the chairmen of Square Food & Beverage Ltd, ACI Limited and Mabco High-tech Rice Industries Ltd, chairman or managing director of BRAC Seed and Agro Enterprise and City Auto Rice & Dal Mills Ltd of Narayanganj, the managing director and CEO of PRAN Foods Ltd.

The managing director of Meghna Group of Industries, chairman of Akij Group, and managing directors of Bashundhara Group, ACI Limited, TK Group, Nurjahan Group and S Alam Refined Sugar Industries Limited will face the hearings for abnormal hike in flour prices.

The CEO of CP Bangladesh Co Ltd, managing director of Diamond Egg Ltd, and proprietor of Peoples Poultry Feed Limited are named in cases related to egg business.

Director of Suguna Food and Feeds Bangladesh Private Limited, managing director of Alal poultry and Fish Feed Ltd, director of Nourish Poultry Hatchery Limited, and president of CP Bangladesh Co Ltd, who are associated with the chicken business, have been sued over chicken prices.

Those sued for hike in the prices of toiletries or soap and detergent are the chairman of ACI Limited, chairman or managing director of Square Group, and the chairmen or managing directors of Kohinoor Chemical Company (Bangladesh) Limited and Keya Group.

Also Read: Bangladesh Competition Commission sues 44 firms over price hike

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