Sugar tastes bitter during festive season in Bangladesh


Dhaka : Sugar, selling at a dollar for a kilogram in Bangladesh, is tasting bitter as Muslims, now observing Ramzan, prepare for Eid-ul-Fitr and the Hindus get ready for the Durga Puja.

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As sugar remains in short supply and becomes dearer, crossing Taka 65, people are queuing up at mobile fair price shops where it sells for Taka 42.

Taka 69 make a US dollar.

There are demands for a ban on sugar exports, conducted by private entrepreneurs for which a committee of parliament blamed the previous caretaker government that ruled during 2007-08.

The refiners and the wholesalers are blaming each other. Refiners say 4,000 tonnes of sugar passed through their factory gates and they sold it to the wholesalers at Taka 39.

The wholesalers dispute this.

Not all of it comes for that price and refiners supply it to the higher bidders, they allege.

Sugar is basic to most preparations during the festive season. Media reports indicate government’s failure to control the supply and the prices with traders resorting to profiteering.

Visits at different markets revealed that many traders, especially wholesalers, stocked sugar and rationed supplies to retail sellers.

Allegations of unfair means by a section of millers were also found which includes the market going under control of a few refiners amid weak market intervention by government entity, Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).

TCB itself is suffering from poor stocks and still awaiting consignment of sugar — more than 37,000 metric tonnes — to arrive, The Daily Star said.

This is a regular festival-time phenomenon in Bangladesh, even if exacerbated this year.

Bangladeshis usually go to their villages to be with their families during the festivities. But train, bus and boat travel modes cannot cater to the rush.

New Age newspaper carries reports of train tickets “slipping into black-market”, meaning travel agents and touts have cornered them in advance.

Prices of eggs, another item used extensively, also shot up well before the festival season began, forcing the government to permit the import of twenty million eggs from India.

This led to protests from the poultry owners and traders who complained of livelihood of two million people being adversely affected.