Prices of sugar have increased in both wholesale and retail markets in Khulna even though the government has reduced the duty on sugar import.
The price has gone up by Tk 20 to Tk 50 per maund within the span of a week in the wholesale market.
Importers said the sugar imported before the duty cut is still in stores. Besides, it may still take about two months for the recently imported sugar to reach the retail markets.
According to sources, the instability in the sugar market remained even after raising the price four times in the last six months. In this situation, the importers requested the government to reduce the duty.
At the request of the Ministry of Commerce, on February 26, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) reduced the regulatory duty on sugar import from 30 per cent to 25 per cent.
Simultaneously, the import duty of Tk 3,000 per tonne of unrefined sugar and Tk 6,000 on refined sugar has been withdrawn. Importers will get this benefit of duty exemption till May 30.
According to market-related sources, the price of sugar was supposed to be reduced by Tk 5 per kg if sugar is imported under this facility of duty exemption.
On visiting various markets and retail shops in Khulna city this correspondent found that loose sugar is being sold at Tk 115-120 per kg and packet sugar at Tk 112-120 per kg. Apart from this, brown sugar (local) is being sold at Tk 140-150 per kg.
Sirajul Islam, a retailer in the city's Sheikhpara market, said “Even after the duty cut the price of sugar has not decreased, on the contrary, it is increasing. On Saturday, I bought sugar for Tk 20 taka more per bag at a wholesale rate.”
He added that the price has increased by Tk 50 in the last week.
Abdur Rahman, a retail seller in the Mistripara market, said the supply of packaged sugar is low but loose sugar is available.
“I do not think the price will decrease anytime soon. There is no information on whether the tariff reduction will reduce prices in the coming days,” he added.
Abul Hashem, the vice president of the Wholesale Sugar Traders Association, confirmed the government has reduced the duty.
“As the price of sugar purchased earlier fell, millers may be adjusting their expenditure due to the reduction in duty. If the recently imported sugar under the duty exemption hits the market, the price must be reduced,” he said.
He further said that the millers have informed that the import cost of sugar has increased. “The prices would have increased further if the government had not implemented the duty reduction.”
Directorate of National Consumers' Right Protection, Khulna’s Assistant Director Md Walid Bin Habib, said they have yet to receive the current retail prices of sugar.
“Currently the highest retail price of sugar is Tk 107 per kg. If someone sells sugar at a higher rate, action will be taken against them. We will soon conduct a drive,” he added.