Commerce Minister Tipu Munshion Monday asked the people not to get panicked over onion and its price as there is sufficient stock of the kitchen essential in the country while the supply chain is also normal.
The Commerce Minister said this while addressing a press briefing virtually at the Ministry of Commerce after a meeting convened to review the stock, supply, and import situation of essential items and also to make stable the supply chain of those essential items.
The minister said,“We are trying to keep the market stable. Our country has a stockpile of 500,000 tonnes of onions, which could cover the next two and a half to three months.”
He also said that if onions could be imported from Myanmar besides India, there would be less pressure. However, due to the rain, the price has gone up a bit. Still we are trying from all around to keep the market situation normal.
The government has emphasised on achieving self-sufficiency in onions by reducing import dependence and increasing production in the country. Onion production in the country has been continuously increasing for the last 6 years.
At the beginning of the meeting, Additional Secretary of the Department of Import and Internal Trade (IIT) of the Ministry of Commerce A H M Safiquzzaman said, the NBR has been requested to withdraw the duty on onion in the public interest and reduce the duty on unprocessed soybean and palm oil and on unrefined sugar.
He also said that the Ministry of Agriculture has been requested to complete the quarantine test of imported onions and issue import permit (IP).
He further said that the Ministry of Commerce has taken various steps to keep the stock, supply, import and price situation of these essential commodities normal and stable as the prices of some essential commodities (vegetable oil, sugar, onion and lentil pulses) have gone up in the local market.
After the meeting, Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh said 80 percent of the onion is produced in the country. The remaining 20 percent is imported from abroad, mostly from India. Some come from Myanmar. That is why I have analysed the price of onions and heard from various organisations including the traders.
Mentioning the high prices of onion in the market in Bangalore, India due to heavy rains, he said that the local traders have increased the prices of onions in Bangladesh following this price hike in Indian market. Some have raised prices in India due to rising prices and some out of apprehension.
"We have already written to all the authorities concerned," he said. The NBR has been asked to withdraw the duty. Steps have been taken to import onions from Myanmar.
The secretary also claimed that there is enough stock of onion.
The secretary said onion production is low from September to November. New onions will hit the market in mid or late November. A month before that, the price of onion is likely to be higher in the market. Under these circumstances, we will try to reflect the price logically, but will remain alert so that nobody can make too much profit. The market situation will be monitored, he added.
A letter has also been sent to the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) to see if the prices of the essential commodities are being overcharged, the commerce secretary said.
In the mean time, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has started working to withdraw onion duty and to reduce tariffs on crude soybean and palm oil and sugar after receiving a request from the Commerce Ministry.
"Our customs wing is working on the matter ... final decision will be taken after holding a meeting with NBR chairman and other top officials," said an NBR official familiar with the process.
He said withdrawal or downward adjustment of duties on any goods is not a complicated process but the customs wing needs to check some import-related matters to make the final decision.