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Syndicate keeps edible oil prices higher in BD despite fall abroad

The fall of edible oil prices abroad has not changed prices in Bangladesh market, reports bdnews24.com

     Exporters have explained the current prices saying there was no import of edible oil after prices fell in the international market.

But an official of the Tariff Commission, choosing to stay anonymous, told bdnews24.com that businessmen ‘have united’ in their efforts to retain the earlier prices of the essential despite the low prices abroad.

The price of unrefined soyabean oil has come down by 37 percent within the span of a year, according to the Commission’s report. Palm oil costs 17 percent less, it said.

Businesses in Bangladesh import soyabean and palm oil, refine them in their facilities and sell them in the market with or without packaging.

Unpacked soyabean oil prices have come down by 17 percent in the domestic market and the bottled ones by 7 percent, according to data by the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) – the government’s trading arm.

There was demand for 1.4 million tonnes of edible oil in the country and 250,000 tonnes are produced at home, said a report by the Ministry of Commerce.

Businesses have opened Letter of Credit (LC) for import of 357,000 tonnes of soyabean oil in the 2013-14 fiscal and 287,000 tonnes of that have been already resolved, the Bangladesh Bank says.

Meanwhile, LCs to import 1.093 million tonnes of palm oil were in the books and 801,000 tonnes of that was resolved.

In the first two months (July-August) of the ongoing 2914-15 fiscal, LCs to import 63,000 tonnes of soyabean oil were opened while 33,000 tonnes of those were resolved.

For palm oil there were LCs to buy 167,000 tonnes and 137,000 tonnes of that was resolved.

Voluntary Consumer Training and Awareness Society (Consumer) Executive Director Khalilur Rahman Sajal told bdnews24.com, “Our misfortune is that out prices don’t proportionally fall even if it does in the outside market. But it goes up when it does.

“The reason behind this is that the businessmen who make imports form syndicates. There are four to five people who control the market for edible oil here.

“There is no competition in the market. If the laws regarding fair competition were active then these companies would not have been able to act in this manner.

“But the government does not have these tools. TCB is not able,” he said.

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