Amid the price spiral of sugar, a most essential item, on the overheated commodity market, local refiners have proposed another hike by Tk 10 per kilogram.
Bangladesh Sugar Refiners Association (BSRA) moved the proposal recently by fixing the maximum retail price (MRP) of packed sugar at Tk 85 per kg from its present rate of Tk 75 while the MRP of loose sugar proposed Tk 80 from Tk 74 a kg.
The association has already sent a letter to the commerce ministry to inform it about the step, which comes amid flurries of talks over high prices of essential commodities.
The new proposal has been given to implement taking the current upward price trend of such items on the international market into consideration, according to the association.
On September 17 last, the commerce ministry in a meeting with different traders' associations discussed the recent market prices of sugar and edible oils. The edible-oil prices were revised upward following a proposal of Bangladesh Vegetable Oil Refiners and Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (BVORVMA). But, no decision was taken regarding the sugar-price issue.
When contacted, ministry of commerce (MoC) Additional Secretary (IIT) A H M Shafiquzzaman said, "We have received a proposal from the BSRA recently to increase the prices of sugar. But we did not get any approval for implanting the new rates of sugar."
The hardship of common consumers will be intensified further if the prices of the item are hiked, experts concerned said.
There is no alternative to implementing the new rates as prices have been increasing at the international level, one refiner said.
Raw (crude) sugar is selling at US$ 490-520 a tonne on the global market, according to the tariff commission.
In September 09, 2021, the government had cut the prices of sugar to contain the soaring prices of such sweetener. The price of packed and loose sugar had been fixed at Tk 75 and Tk 74 per kg. The decision had come at a meeting between the commerce ministry and the country's sugar refiners.
Currently, the sugar prices are still much higher on the retail market, even though the government fixed the maximum retail price (MRP) of the essential to control the rocketing trend of the commodity.
The essential is still selling at Tk 85-90-a kg in the retail markets. Traders said they were still selling their old stocks that were bought at higher prices, forcing them to sell those at high prices.
The annual local demand for refined sugar is 1.6 million tonnes, the bulk of which comes through import.
On average, 0.11 million (1.1 lakh) tonnes of sugar is required per month, according to the official data.