Sugar prices may drop in early Ramadan, says commerce minister

Tipu Munshi expects that the media will play a responsible role when it comes to price control

Published : 19 March 2023, 09:53 AM
Updated : 19 March 2023, 09:53 AM

Sugar prices may drop during the first week of Ramadan as the government has reduced the tax, said Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi.

The stock of all essential products is more than enough to cover Ramadan, he said, adding that consumers tend to buy and stock products in the first week of Ramadan.

“This causes a temporary price hike. The price will not go up if they refrain from buying a lot in one go. Even the prices of some products may drop, as traders promised earlier. The sugar price, in particular, may drop in the first week of Ramadan,” he said in a press briefing on Sunday.

He also said that Bangladesh has sufficient soybean oil in stock.

“We calculated and found ourselves unable to push the price down further. Even if the price goes down in the international market, it can’t decrease in the local market due to the high price of the dollar. However, there is no reason for the price to increase.”

The minister hoped that traders will play an important role in controlling the price of essentials. The ministry and other government agencies had several meetings with traders regarding the coming Ramadan, he said.

“We can’t guarantee that every businessman will be honest. However, law enforcement agencies will not be sitting idle in such cases. They have been informed to keep an eye on the situation.”

Tipu Munshi also expects the media will play a responsible role when it comes to price control.

“Sometimes, dishonest traders can charge Tk 30 or Tk 40 more on products in Uttara, compared to the same item in Karwan Bazar. People receive the wrong message if the media only reports on the Uttara price and not the Karwan Bazar price. Other traders are also influenced and start thinking they can charge more too. Therefore, journalists also have a role in controlling the market. They should write reports while ensuring that they do not cause a panic.”

There is a higher demand for eggplant, tomato, cucumber, and chicken during Ramadan, the minister said. The commerce ministry asked the home ministry to ensure that the vehicles carrying vegetables are not extorted on the way.

“We’ll strictly monitor it. No one can stop a food-laden truck on a highway.”

“The government has lowered the VAT and tax for importing sugar, but the shipments that took advantage of this have yet to reach the market. The traders have asked for a few more days. We hope the new prices will take effect in the first week of Ramadan,” he said.

The demand for food this Ramadan is expected to be 15-20 percent lower than last year due to inflation, according to a report from the Essential Commodity Price Monitoring Cell of the commerce ministry.

As the duty on the import of sugar has been lowered, it necessitates an adjustment in the price of the commodity, the report said.