The government has directed the Customs Intelligence of the National Board of Revenue and the Tariff Commission to submit reports on the amount of imported onions, the import price and the selling price
In a bid to identify unscrupulous traders behind the recent onion price manipulation, the government has so far collected information on 341 businessmen who imported onions from India between August 15 and November 18, after onion price hike in that country.
The government has directed the Customs Intelligence of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) and the Tariff Commission to submit reports on the amount of imported onions, the import price and the selling price.
The organisations said information has been sought from business entities based on the information of the NBR database. The traders will be interrogated as there is a significant discrepancy between the import price and the selling price.
According to the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID), in three months after the onion price hike in India, the local traders imported 167,806 tonnes of onion, worth Tk660 crore, through eight land ports in Bangladesh.
Dr Shahidul Islam, director general of the CIID, told The Business Standard, "According to the invoices of the traders, in the last three months the average price of imported onions was Tk39.33. However, the onions were sold at Tk100, and in some cases the price exceeded Tk200.
"We are investigating whether or not the traders sold the onions after buying those cheap. The importers will be interrogated too."
Initially, the CIID received information of 47 importers, of which 13 have been called for interrogation on Monday, he added.
Apart from the Customers Intelligence, the Bangladesh Tariff Commission has asked for information from 36 importers including Ibnul Enterprise, Brothers Trade International in Shutrapur area in the capital, secretary of Gulshan Kitchen Market Association Abul Kashem, secretary of Moulovibazar Businessmen Association Hazsi Abdur Razzak, Shyambazar Krishiponno Arot Malik Shomity secretary Hazi Abdur Ramih, City Group Chairman Fazlur Rahman, Meghna Group Managing Director Mostofa Kamal and Sahabuddin Alam of MA Group of Industries in Chattogram.
Besides, the Chattogram Customs Intelligence has received information about 30 business entities in Chattogram and Cox's Bazar.
On Sunday, representatives from the commerce, food, agriculture and industries ministries, the National Board of Revenue, the Bangladesh Competition Commission, and the Tariff Commission sat with top business leaders in the capital on how to control price hike of daily necessities.
The meeting, held at the Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries in Motijheel, discussed future action plans against a possible unrest in different stages of commodities, including production, import, storage, supply chain management and fixing prices.
"The government is working on to find out those who have created the current crisis by hoarding onions. That is why we are monitoring how much onions were imported and where those onions were sold," said Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, the chairman of National Board of Revenue.
An importer from Moulvibazar said, "The chairman of the NBR has asked for information from us but he also told us not to be panicked."
The chairman of the Bangladesh Tariff Commission said actions will be taken against those who will be found guilty of hoarding onions.
Shaad Enterprise imported 82 tonnes of onions from Pakistan. One of its representatives Hafizur Rahman, who was present at the meeting, said, "After importing onion, we offered to sell it to the TCB but it turned down the offer. That is why, onions were sold at Tk160-165 in wholesale markets."