The government has vowed to take tough legal action against any person who spreads rumours about salt amid panic buying.
A quarter is out to spread rumours in Bangladesh and there are “evil attempts” to spread rumours about the supply of salt, the government said in a statement on Tuesday.
It noted the industries ministry already assured people of enough salt in stock and new products are expected to arrive in December.
“So, there is no lack of salt and no possibilities of any shortage,” reports bdnews24.com citing the statement.
“If any person or group tries to spread rumours about salt or anything else on social media or in any other way, they will face tough legal steps,” it added.
The rumour of a salt price hike spread in Sylhet, Habiganj, Gopalganj, Thakurgaon and Netrakona districts on Monday evening following weeks of skyrocketing onion prices due to a supply squeeze.
Panicked consumers started stockpiling salt, giving rogue traders the opportunity to charge extra across the country, including Dhaka.
A mobile court sentenced four Habiganj businessmen on Monday night for trying to stockpile salt by spreading rumours. Such drives were conducted in many other places.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi told a press conference in Dhaka that he had asked officials to jail and fine scrupulous traders if they sold salt at higher prices.
He urged all not to pay heed to any rumours. “The industries ministry control salt trade. [Scrupulous traders] are taking an unfair advantage. There is no reason to pay heed to any rumours.”
A total of 650,000 tonnes of salt is in stock in the country, according to Munshi.
“Salt import has also been stopped to assist local producers. There is no reason behind any price hike. The consumer rights authorities have been asked to monitor the market and slap jail terms and fines whenever necessary,” he said.
Earlier, the Ministry of Industries said in a statement: “It appears that a vested quarter is spreading rumours to make windfall profits by manipulating salt prices. The public is requested not to get confused.”
“The demand for edible salt per month is around 100,000 tonnes. On the other hand, we have a salt reserve of 600,000 tonnes. So, there is no question of a salt crisis.”
In addition, sufficient quantity of salt is available in the reserves of various salt company dealers, wholesalers and retailers across the country, it said.
“The salt production season has also started.”
The Bangladesh Small & Cottage Industries Corporation, or BSCIC, has opened a control room at its headquarters to take salt-related queries on 02-9573505 and 01715223949.