The revenue authorities have interrogated the country’s 43 top onion importers in the last two days
The Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has found no evidence of onion hoarding after questioning top onion importers for two days.
The investigators suspect that some traders might have stockpiled onions to manipulate its price.
The NBR interrogated 43 top onion importers of the country in the last two days.
After quizzing them, CIID Director General Dr M Shahidul Islam on Tuesday said, "We have found where the onions went after they were imported. If any unscrupulous businessman played any role in manipulating the market, we will identify him and take action."
The onion importers claimed that they had not hoarded the onions. After importing them, store owners from different parts of the country carried them away on trucks. The importers stock them for 2-3 days at most.
Hamid, an importer from Khulna said, he gave the customs intelligence all the information he had on the amount of onions imported and to whom they were sold during the last three months.
He said, "We did not stockpile any onions. We bought onions for Tk74 per kg and sold them for Tk80 to Tk85. The price of onions could have been increased at three to four stages before they reached the market."
Abbdul Awal, an importer from Chapainawabganj, said, "When the onions arrived from India, they were taken to Dhaka on trucks within a short period of time. We sell the onions for a profit of 40 to 50 paisa per kilogram."
Although the authorities cannot find evidence of price manipulation by the importers, the price of onions in the country is increasing daily. They were sold for Tk230 per kg on Monday. The government is trying control the price of onions by importing them through the large importers like City Group, Meghna Group and S Alam Group.
The customs intelligence Director Dr M Shahidul said, "We have collected information on how much the onions were sold for by the importers, and to whom. We have the buyers' name and address. We will examine these if it is needed in the future."
When asked if any syndicate was involved, Dr M Shahidul said, "We do not want to call it a syndicate. We are trying to identify whether any unscrupulous businessman tried to manipulate the market. If we find any information on any dishonest businessmen, we will take action against them."
Customs intelligence sources said, the top onion importers who were interrogated had imported 1.04558 lakh tonnes of onions for Tk400 crore from August to November 2019. That means, they imported onions for Tk38.26 per kilogram, but it was sold across the country for around Tk200 per kilogram.
In a bid to identify unscrupulous traders responsible for the recent onion price manipulation, the government has collected information on 341 businessmen who imported onions from India between August 15 and November 18.
The government has directed the customs intelligence department of the National Board of Revenue and the Tariff Commission to submit reports on the amount of onions imported, the import price and the selling price over the last few weeks.
The Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) says that in the three months after the onion price hike in India, Bangladeshi traders imported 167,806 tonnes of onions worth Tk660 crore, through eight land ports.