The government has reduced edible oil prices at the retail level – amid their continuous drop in the international market – but there has been no impact on the domestic market even after two days of the announcement.
Retailers say companies have not started supplying low-cost bottled and packaged edible oil despite the announcement. So edible oil bought at higher prices is being sold at the previous rates.
According to officials at edible oil marketing companies, bottling at the new rates has started. The new price labels will also be put on the bottles already on the market. This process takes one or two days.
On Tuesday, grocery stores at different kitchen markets in Chattogram were seen selling bottled soybean oil of different brands, such as Rupchanda, Pusti, Fresh, Teer, and Bashundhara, at Tk199 per litre.
Two litres of bottled soybean oil of Fresh and Teer brands were selling at Tk398 while Rupchanda, Pusti and Bashundhara were at Tk396.
Among five litres of bottled soybean oil, Teer and Rupchanda are being sold at Tk997, while Pusti, Fresh and Bashundhara are at Tk985.
On Sunday, the government slashed the prices of one-litre bottled soybean oil by Tk14 and palm oil by Tk6.
According to the announcement, one litre of bottled soybean was supposed to be sold at Tk185, and 5 litres at Tk910 from Monday. The price of bottled palm oil has been set at Tk152 per litre.
But, surprisingly, the price of five litres of bottled soybean oil sold at present is more than the price set on 6 June.
Nurul Abshar, the proprietor of Jannat Store, a grocery shop in the SS Khaled Road area of the port city, said, "No company has so far offered low-cost bottled soybean oil. Even on Monday, we bought five litres of Teer brand soybean oil at Tk960.
"But according to the new price, its maximum retail price is supposed to be Tk910. As we still have to buy oil at the previous higher price, we are also selling at the previous price," he added.
Nusrat Jahan, a resident of Siraj-Ud-Daula Road in the city, said on Tuesday morning a grocery store asked Tk997 for a five-litre bottle of Rupchanda soybean oil.
"Later, I bought one-litre bottled soybean oil of Fresh brand at the previous price of Tk199," she added.
Mohammad Faizullah, Chattogram Divisional Deputy Director at the Directorate of National Consumers' Right Protection, said, "We visited the factory of an edible oil bottling company today too. The factory has stopped bottling."
"Officials there said they will start bottling oil at the new price once they receive the price reduction instructions from Dhaka," he added.
The deputy director said his office has not received any complaint regarding the sale of edible oil at earlier inflated prices at the retail level.
"We will start drives at the retail level very soon," he added.
Advocate Akhtar Kabir Chowdhury, Chattogram city president of Concerned Citizens Committee-TIB, has blamed the weaknesses of the regulatory authorities for the practice of overcharging consumers by businesses.
Amitava Chakraborty, an adviser at City Group, the country's top edible oil importer and marketing company, said, "We have started preparations for marketing edible oil at the price set by the government. Consumers will soon get cheaper edible oil in the market. Even the previously overpriced bottles in the market will be fitted with lower price tags."
Earlier on 26 June, the ministry reduced the prices of bottled soybean oil by Tk6 to Tk199 per litre. Prices of soybean and palm oil are dwindling due to their declining prices in the international market.
Bangladesh saw a record price hike of Tk205 per litre of bottled soybean oil recently as the price of the essential commodity spiralled on the global market in the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine war and the Indonesia ban on its palm oil exports.