Consumers get no respite from edible oil crisis

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Reza Mahmud :
Three days after the government’s approval to raise prices, the supply crunch of soybean oil has worsened further in the city’s markets making consumers to suffer.
This correspondent found the fire while visiting different kitchen markets and groceries in the capital.
“The supply crunch of cooking oil is still prevailing as the refineries are creating an artificial crisis in the market through indulging various irregularities,” a shopkeeper at the city’s Mugda area told The New Nation yesterday.
He alleged that refiners are not delivering branded edible oils even after taking orders.
“Groceries of this area almost ran dry of the cooking oils due to the supply crunch. We are facing the supply shortage of edible oils ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr. And the situation is yet to be improved despite price hike of the commodity,” he added.
The government on Thursday raised maximum retail price (MRP) of brand soybean oil by Tk 38 a litre to Tk 198 while the MRP for a litre of loose soybean oil raised by Tk 37 to Tk 180.
Soybean oil has been selling for Tk 200 per litre in the country as demand has surpassed its supplies, market sources said. Shopkeepers in the capital’s different areas said that they failed to get supply of the cooking oil from their wholesalers.
Besides, the wholesalers said the refiners tightened supply and thus compelled them to stop delivery to retail traders.
“In my store there is not a single bottle of the edible oil. I became tired of saying the consumers the fact,” Jasim Uddin, a shopkeeper in capital’s Gandaria area told The New Nation yesterday.
“Even I cannot assure them when the commodity will be available in my shop,” he added.
Besides, consumers also become tired searching the most essential commodity as it was the only option for many of them because the other cooking oils like mustard oil, sunflower oil, rice bran oil, and olive oil is more costly.
“I have searched as many as 15 shops in groceries and in supermarkets but failed to get even one litre of soybean oil. Now what can I say to my family about cooking foods,” said Abdus Sabur, a resident of Wari in the capital.
People from different areas across the capital have faced the similar situation as edible oil has gone out of shelves from the stores. “Who will take the liability of keeping normal supply of our emergency daily essentials like this oil, rice and pulses? We are astonished as there is no soybean oil in the markets,” said Khalid Hossain, from capital’s Motijheel area.
He and several others with him said that their families are cooking foods with their stocks collected before the Eid-ul-Fitr.
But their stocks also are running out fast, they could not think what will be next.
Apart from these, many of the businessmen said that they failed to submit their demand orders (DOs) as the banks were remained closed on Friday and Saturday.
On the other hand, dishonest businessmen were hoarding soybean oil for further hiking its price making the consumers hostage.
Meanwhile, mobile courts have found several thousands litters of soybean oil in hoardings in different godowns across the country.
Mobile courts has found such illegal stockings and fined the businessmen.
In Khagrachari district, a mobile court has fined a trader Tk 1 lakh for hoarding 57,000 liters of soybean oil in his four godowns at Ramgarh upazila in the district.
Ramgarh UNO and Executive Magistrate Khandaker Md. Ikhtiyar Uddin conducted the court and fined trader Fazlul Karim Patwari on Friday evening for illegally stockpiling the soybean oil.