The government would soon constitute a coordination committee to oversee the market conditions of essential commodities.
The body will be assigned to monitor the stock and supply situation of essential commodities, price movements in the domestic and international markets, and to prevent any abnormal situations in the market, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi told a press briefing on Sunday.
He also informed that Bangladesh Bank (BB) will form a crisis management cell to monitor and supervise the import-related issues, especially opening LCs, of key commodities.
He was talking to the press after the 8th meeting of the trade advisory committee at his secretariat office. Senior secretary of commerce Tapan Kanti Ghosh moderated the meeting, with the minister in the chair.
Members of the advisory committee included Hasan Imam Khan, President of the International Chamber of Commerce-Bangladesh ((ICCB) Mahbubur Rahman, President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Md. Jashim Uddin, president of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) Rizwan Rahman, and President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Faruque Hassan, among others, were present at the meeting.
The minister said the government remained alert about ensuring smooth supply of essentials in the market during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan.
"We'll soon sit with the big businesses … we'll try to encourage them to keep the prices of basic essential goods at affordable prices for the consumers," he said, assuring all possible measures so that the consumers do not face sufferings during the holy month.
Mr Munshi also informed that different issues were discussed in the meeting and necessary steps will be taken in accordance with the emerging situation. "We'll talk to ministries concerned as and when necessary.''
Replying to a question, Mr Munshi said: "There is sufficient stock of sugar in the country. We're trying to keep the sugar price at an affordable level."
The commerce ministry would send a letter to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) requesting it to waive import duty on sugar, according to the meeting sources.
At present, a 15 per cent VAT is applicable to import of raw/refined sugar while the import duty (customs duty) on import of refined and raw sugar are Tk 6,000 and Tk 3,000 per tonne respectively.
A 30 per cent regulatory duty is also applicable to import of sugar (refined/raw sugar). In addition, the government imposes 5.0 per cent advance income tax (AIT) on import of refined sugar and 5.0 per cent AT on import of refined/raw sugar.
The minister said the government was thinking about sending the manipulators of the sugar market to jail.
Traders have, however, assured the government of their cooperation in maintaining a normal supply chain and keeping prices of essential items under control throughout the year, including in the fasting month, he added.
Speaking at the meeting, ICCB President Mahbubur Rahman said there should have been inter-ministerial coordination because the commerce ministry has little mechanism to control the prices of essentials.
There should have been a mechanism, he added.
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