Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC) has recommended setting the price of palm oil at Tk133 per litre and the price of sugar per kg, considering the price situation of the world market and import cost.
The commission believes the price of soybean oil is reasonable at present.
Commerce ministry sources say the commission has sent its opinion regarding the price of these three products to the ministry last week.
Currently, palm oil and sugar are being sold at higher rates than recommended by the BTTC. According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), palm oil was priced at Tk145 to Tk150 per litre, sugar Tk90 to Tk95 per kg and soybean oil Tk185 to Tk192 per litre in the retail market on Tuesday.
Taking the rates of the tariff commission into account, there is scope to reduce the price of palm oil by Tk12 to Tk17 per kg and sugar by Tk6 to Tk11 per kg.
On 30 August, the Ministry of Commerce announced the decision to fix the prices of rice, atta, flour, soybean oil, palm oil, sugar, lentil, MS rod and cement.
The Commerce Minister said that the tariff commission will sit with the traders to determine the prices of these products.
However, after the announcement of the commerce ministry, Agriculture Minister Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque said it will not be right to fix the prices.
The Tariff Commission sent a report to the ministry with their price recommendations for the three products.
A senior Tariff Commission official told The Business Standard on condition of anonymity that the prices of edible oil and sugar are set by the Ministry of Commerce.
"Our report has been sent. Now the ministry will decide on the pricing. And the Ministry of Agriculture will decide on prices of agricultural products," said the official.
The commerce minister and the commerce secretary were not immediately available for comments on whether the ministry adopted the commission's recommendation to fix the prices of edible oil and sugar.
However, the Commerce Minister said in a meeting last Saturday that they can fix the price of edible oil and sugar as it falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Commerce. But the responsibility of fixing the price of the rest of the products is the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture and the announcement needs to come from the agriculture ministry.
Apex trade body Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Senior Vice President Mostafa Azad Chowdhury Babu told The Business Standard, "I think the tariff commission spoke to the traders and gave their opinion. In that case we have no objection to fixing prices based on their recommendation."
The tariff commission official also said, "They are working on determining the price of MS rod and cement. Some 16 to 17 raw materials are used with it. We are working on collecting necessary information. It will take time and we asked for time."
A Gaffar Khan, director general of the Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAP) under the Ministry of Agriculture, told The Business Standard, "DAP is not working on determining prices of the products, the ministry will decide on it. However, we check the market every day and publish the average price of the products on the website."
According to data published on DAP's website yesterday, the retail prices of sugar, palm oil and soybean oil were respectively Tk74 per kg and Tk145 and Tk192 per litres.