The Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) has urged the government for a quick readjustment of edible oil prices in the country in line with the consistent fall in oil prices in the international market.
"Why delay in a readjustment of edible oil prices despite continuous price fall of the produce in the international market? Is the Trade and Tariff Commission working only in the interest of traders?" CAB Vice President SM Najer Hossain asked in a media statement on Saturday.
He further said the Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC) becomes enthusiastic to increase the edible oil price when their prices increase in the international market. But the agency shows little interest to readjust oil prices when the rates decline in the global market.
Raising a question on why the delay in the readjustment of edible oil price, SM Najer Hossain, said prices of edible oil have decreased in the international market but they have not yet lowered in the local market.
When prices decline in the global market, businessmen have various excuses including buying at higher prices or booking rates, said the CAB vice president, adding that the one-sided approach of this commission is a violation of the law and the matter is a serious impediment to the consumer interests in the country.
"Despite the constant fall in prices in the international market, the Commerce Minister has assured several times about the readjustment of the edible oil price, but it has not been implemented," Najer Hossain said.
When the prices of edible oil rose in the global market, the government took various initiatives including VAT exemption, LC commission and LC margin and withdrawal of VAT on the import of edible oil. With those advantages when the oil hit the country's market, the importers were supposed to lower the price. But consumers have not benefited as traders do not lower the price, he added.
"When the price of oil in the world market has decreased, the price of the product is not decreasing on various deceitful excuses such as the increase in the global fuel oil price, the increase in the price of electricity in the country and the high price of the dollar," the CAB vice president added.
He said the prices of edible oil in the local market increased five times from October 2021 to June 2022.
In June, the government fixed the mill-gate price of loose soybean oil at Tk180 a litre, Tk182 at the distributor level, and Tk185 at the retail level. The mill-gate price of bottled soybean oil was fixed at Tk195 a litre, Tk199 at the distributor level, and Tk205 at the retail level. The mill-gate rate of palm oil was fixed at Tk153 a litre, Tk155 at the distributor level, and Tk158 at the consumer level.
After reviewing the prices of soybean oil in the international market, the prices of edible oil were $765 per tonne in 2019 while it was $838 per tonne in 2020 and $1,385 per tonne 2021. The prices rose again in March 2022. In March, the price of soybean oil was $1,956 per tonne. In the second week of July, the prices of palm oil decreased to $941 per tonne and soybean oil to $1,353 per tonne.
Yet, the prices had not dropped in Bangladesh.