Dhaka, Nov 14 (UNB) – The onion price that has been skyrocketing in recent days will not start falling to previous levels before the first week of December, Commerce Secretary Dr Jafar Uddin said Thursday.
When asked about the abnormal price hike, Jafar told UNB that the price went up as arrival of locally produced onion in the market was delayed by 20/25 days. Besides, the government used to import 1,000mts of onion from Myanmar but that has been reduced to only 400 mts, he said.
“The onion price will come down by the first week of December when the locally produced onions enter the market,” he added.
In the meantime, some groups including City Group, Meghna Group have been importing onions from Egypt and Turkey, with their consignment now in Singapore, Jafor said. They would be arriving “in a few weeks”, the secretary said.
Asked about the quantity of onion being imported, he said almost 20 mts will arrive soon while S Alam Group will also import another 50 mts onion from Turkey.
Jafor insisted the price of onions will stabilize when the imported onions and local produce enter the markets by the first week of December.
Humayun Kabir, information officer at Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), said 35 trucks carrying 1,000 kg (a tonne) onions each are being sold in the capital at Tk 45 per kg everyday.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi faced criticism in parliament on Thursday from his own party members. Veteran Awami League leader Mohammad Nasim MP noted the onion price was “almost touching Tk 200 per kg.”
“The businessmen take the opportunity when the Commerce Minister says the onion prices will not go below Tk 100 per kg,” he claimed.
Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun on Tuesday claimed that the onion price, which had been on the rise throughout the last six weeks, was “now under control”. The evidence of the 48 hours since has shown him out of touch, with some of the biggest single-day hikes recorded on Wednesday and Thursday.
“I believe the onion market that had gone beyond control is now under control,” he said while responding to a supplementary question from BNP MP Jahidur Rahman in Parliament in absence of Commerce Minister Tipu Mushi.
Earlier on November 3, Conscious Consumers’ Society (CCS) organised a press conference titled 'Price anarchy by onion syndicate' at the Jatiya Press Club.
They claimed that the onion price hike is a planned one by a syndicate and urged the government to take immediate steps to arrest the skyrocketing price of the cooking ingredient.
According to the CCS data, the onion price saw a 400 percent hike in four months from July 2 to October 31.
The problem has been particularl;y acute since September 29, when the Indian government banned export of onions after extended Monsoon downpours played havoc with its own supplies.
Earlier on October 28, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said 7-8,000 tonnes of onion will be brought from Egypt by the first week of November.
“The shipment of onions is expected to enter the country within the first week of November. There’s no scope for the onion price to come down until then,” he claimed.
Yet none of the new consignments are now expected to enter the market before the first of December at best. Not even the local ones. Prices recorded on Thursday ranged between Tk 200-220 in the city’s kitchen markets. On Wednesday they were Tk 170-180.
How high can they go in another three weeks?