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Staff Correspondent
Country’s salt industry has suffered a serious setback over the recent years due to numerous reasons like allowing the use of sodium sulphate as edible salt, importing finished salt in the name of sodium sulphate and dual policy on import duty by the agencies concerned, blamed the salt industry owners on Wednesday.
They claimed undue practices are contributing to pushing the highly potential natural salt industry to the verge of collapse.
The remarks came at a press conference at a city hotel, organised by ‘Bangladesh Labon Mill Malik Samity’, the sole body of the country’s private sector salt production, import and supply sector.
The press conference titled ‘Market is flooded with harmful sodium sulphate: Local Industry is on the verge of collapse’ was attended by President of Labon Mill Malik Samity Nurul Kabir and other central leaders.
They demanded a ban on import of sodium sulphate considering its harmful effects on human body or an imposition of 100 percent customs duty on importing sodium sulphate, allowing the salt industry owners to import salt measuring the deficit in the market following the demand.
Reading out a written handout at the press conference, president of the association, Nurul Kabir, claimed that more than 300 salt mills have already gone closed while around one lakh workers, involved in the sector, are under a threat to go unemployed because of the dual policy and negligence of BSCIC to the salt cultivators.
“On the other hand, the general consumers are being affected with various critical diseases like kidney, liver, stomach, and also developing problems in other vital organs by consuming sodium sulphate. If decision is not taken immediately the whole nation will fall in severe health risks”, Kabir added.
He said sodium sulphate can be imported on a very nominal rate of import duty because it is basically used as a chemical in different uses in the garment industry, but a vested quarter is producing edible salt by using this chemical illegally. On the other hand the customs duty of unfinished bolder salt is 87-90 percent.
“Huge quantity of sodium sulphate is being imported because there is no guideline by law; then again, importing sodium chloride or edible salt is prohibited. But if there is shortage in production against the demand, salt can be imported by the recognised salt mills owners”, Nurul Kabir said.
He mentioned that as per the BSCIC’s account, in the current year there is a shortage of 1.28 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of salt but still no decision is taken by the government to allow the salt mill owners to import it. Besides, every day thousands of tonnes of sodium sulphate are being imported through Chattogram port with the support of a powerful syndicate.
Speakers said, despite increase in demand the salt production is reducing in the country every year whereas the demand of salt is increasing in industries and factories of the country. Against the demand of 20 lakh tonnes a year the country produces around 14 lakh tonnes. In spite of the shortage, the government did not allow mills owners to import the item.
Speakers demanded formulation of a guideline for importing sodium sulphate and also enhancing vigilance upon the use of sodium sulphate.