The commerce ministry has received proposals from several small importers keen on selling sugar to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), which frequently sells essential commodities at subsidised rates to the low-income group.
An official of the ministry, on condition of anonymity, told The Business Post, “The conglomerates usually get the opportunity to import or purchase sugar directly, but small importers do not.
“Their proposals are being scrutinised. If the competition increases, it will have a positive impact on the market.”
The TCB is now selling sugar at Tk 55 per kg, while the commerce ministry this October fixed the price of loose sugar at Tk 90 per kg and that of branded packaged sugar at Tk 95 with a hike of Tk 6 per kg.
However, the price of sugar ranges between Tk 115 and Tk 125 a kg in the kitchen markets now.
Three companies have sent proposals to the ministry for sugar imports in 50kg sacks through direct purchase. The Business Post has collected copies of those proposals.
Among those, Sylhet-based Fakruddin Ali Ahmed wants to import 25,000 tonnes of sugar, and per tonne cost would be $528.
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JHM International Ltd showed interest in importing 12,500 tonnes with per tonne cost of $525. Pacific Consumer Goods Ltd proposes to import 25,000 tonnes at a cost of $530 per tonne.
Meanwhile, following government approval on November 10, the TCB, a wing of the commerce ministry, would procure some 12,500 tonnes of sugar from Brazil with a cost of Tk 65.98 crore.
JMI Export and Import Company would act as the local agent, while the price of per tonne sugar would be $524.21.
Currently, the annual sugar demand in Bangladesh is 18-20 lakh tonnes, and a major portion of the volume must be imported. Domestic sugar mills can produce only 1-1.5 lakh tonnes of sugar annually, according to commerce ministry data.
At present, there are 15 state-owned sugar mills, but six of those stopped production in the last two years. As a result, sugar production has decreased by 30,000-40,000 tonnes.
Mostly dependent on the private sector, the sugar market has been witnessing volatility in recent weeks. Although the government set the price of the commodity last month, there was hardly any reflection in the local market.