The government has moved to waive various airport-related charges to help lower the import cost of much-talked-about onion, whose price has recently mounted amid short supply.
The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) has taken the step following a meeting with the importers and the agencies concerned on Sunday evening, officials said.
"We have already written to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism to waive the airport charges on public interest," Commerce Secretary Md Jafar Uddin told the FE on Monday.
He said the stakeholders concerned informed the ministry that handling fees, lending charges and other airport bills will ultimately enhance onion price.
The Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) and the private sector importers are bringing onion by air on an emergency basis to help lower price of the key cooking ingredient.
"If the airport-related charges cause further price hike, there is no meaning of importing onion by air."
The waiver has been sought both for scheduled and non-scheduled flights, which would transport onion.
The MoC secretary further said the first air consignment of onion is scheduled to reach Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Monday night.
After that a good number of onion consignments will reach the country by air through intervals.
"Onion will be imported by both chartered cargo planes and passenger planes - from Egypt, Turkey, China and some other onion exporting countries."
Some 12,000 tonnes of onion are in the pipeline, for being brought by waterways, he added.
The MoC secretary noted that to tackle the onion price spiral the government has lowered margin for opening letters of credit (LCs) and interest rate of bank loans as well as encouraged traders to import onion from other countries than India, after the neighbouring country slapped ban on its export.
Besides, the government also instructed the ports and customs authorities to ensure faster delivery of onion consignments just after they reach the ports.
Md Jafar Uddin also informed newsmen that the ministry is continuing its market monitoring to help tap the price spiral of onion.
Some 2,500 dishonest businessmen have been punished for their involvement in selling onion at abnormal price, he added.
Meanwhile, the price of onion at wholesale and retail levels started coming down on Monday due to arrival of new local variety in the market, import consignments and monitoring by the government agencies concerned. Various public-private measures to import the key essential commodity are also believed to be another reason behind the price fall.
On Monday, local variety of onion was sold at prices ranging between Tk 200 and Tk 210 per kilogramme, while onion varieties imported mainly from China and Myanmar were traded at Tk 170 and Tk 180 per kg in the retail outlets.
On Sunday, local onion was sold at around Tk 240 a kg, and imported varieties at Tk 210-220 a kg.
Meanwhile, the government's monitoring team realised Tk 115,000 as fine from four onion trading houses at Shyambazar on the day, as they were allegedly selling onion at higher rates and violating some rules.