The Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) has stopped selling sugar to family cardholders from this month due an acute supply shortage as prices of the commodity have spiralled far out of the government fixed rate.
According to senior TCB officials, local suppliers failed to provide sugar as the commodity is not available in the market at the government fixed prices.
At present, TCB has refrained from selling sugar under its regular programme for family cardholders all over the country except in Dhaka city. The state-owned agency is selling edible oil and lentils only.
TCB started selling products to one crore family cardholders this month from 14 May.
“We have taken initiatives to import sugar from Brazil, Turkey and the United States. LCs have already been opened to that end, with the first shipment scheduled for June 15,” TCB Chairman Brigadier General Ariful Hasan told The Business Post.
He said, “Once the shipment starts, you have to wait for the time it takes to arrive in the country. We will be able to sell our imported sugar from next July. But before that we are trying to import sugar from India to meet the crisis for a short time. If we can do that, we will be able to give products including sugar to customers before Eid next month.”
Meanwhile, a shipment of TCB imported sugar from Brazil is scheduled to arrive in early July, which is expected to bring down prices and increase sugar availability.
Sugar prices reached a record high of Tk 140 per kilogram at the retail level amid a rise in commodity prices from the beginning of this month and has remained unchanged since. The commodity was available at Tk 120 per kg at the end of April.
The price hikes resulted in a decline in sugar supply in the open market.
Last week, even the TCB increased the price of sugar, after the government readjusted its retail price for the open market two weeks ago by Tk 16 per kg. Government fixed the price of sugar at Tk 120 per kg for the open market at retail level.
Under TCB’s regular sales programme, a family cardholder is supposed to get worth Tk 430 products at a time, including two litres of oil at Tk 110 per litre, 2 kg of red lentils at Tk 70 per kg and one kg of sugar at Tk 70 per kg.
The country has a demand of 1.75 lakh tonnes of sugar per month, almost all of which is imported through local refiners. Out of which, TCB sells 10,000 tonnes of sugar per month.
Sources said TCB has been collecting sugar from local suppliers till now, but took the initiative of direct import amid the supply crisis.
Now, TCB has received approval from the government to import 75,000 tonnes of sugar.