The government is going to import 50,000 tonnes of refined sugar to increase national stock and meet possible shortage of the essential food item, said official sources.
The decision came at a time when the retail prices of sugar fell during the last couple of months.
The Ministry of Industries will place the import proposal at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase on Wednesday. Finance Minister AMA Muhith will preside over the meeting.
Chairman of Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation AKM Delwar Hossain said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already given permission to import 100,000 tonnes of sugar to meet a possible crisis due to the recent devastating floods in the country.
“Sugar canes are raw materials of the sugar mills. But none of the eight state-owned sugar mills could collect sugar canes as per their demands as the flash floods had destroyed the sugar cane fields this year,” he said.
“Because the floods hit the northern districts, the mills in Gaibandha, Joypurhat, Panchagarh and Thakurgaon failed to collect adequate raw materials.”
Delwar Hossain said there is only a total stock of 18,000 tonnes of sugar now at the government-owned warehouses.
According to him, such situation may create panic among consumers as privately-owned sugar mills can take the advantage of it and increase the prices.
“We need 80,000 tonnes of sugar more in the government stocks to meet local demand. As part of this, the import proposal has been made,” Delwar Hossain said.
The country’s total demand of sugar is now 1.5m tonnes, mostly met by the private millers. The state-owned mills meet around 100,000 tonnes.
The retail price of sugar has now dropped to Tk56 per kg from Tk60 one month ago while that of the packed sugar is selling at Tk65 per kg compared to Tk69 a month earlier.
According to the industries ministry, the total stock of sugar at the state-owned firms stands at 41,951 tonnes and of it the stock for distribution among the staff of different forces including military, police, BGB and Ansar is 23,471 tonnes. The remaining stock excluding the amount kept for the forces is, therefore, 18,483 tonnes.
A seven local and international firms have participated in the industries ministry’s tender. M/S Ria International Company Limited offered the lowest price of Tk9,779.67 per tonne.
The total cost of the import is estimated at Tk245 crore.
Other firms which participated in the tender included United Sugar Mills Limited, City Sugar Industries Limited and M/S Globatu Import and Export Limited. The government has exempted the proposed import of sugar from taxes.