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Uncontrolled mineral salt import leads to uneven competition

27 July 2021

Al Amin :
Salt import in the name of producing caustic soda by misusing duty facility is creating uneven competition in edible salt marketing in the country, alleged the sector insiders.
A powerful syndicate has been importing more than 0.5 million tonnes of mineral salt through misdeclaration in association with the officials of the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), they also alleged.
The uncontrolled import of the industrial salt is putting pressure on the local salt producers as well as the country people are also facing increasing health risk, they said.
Officials of the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), however, said various measures have already been taken in the current fiscal budget to prevent the misuse of the salt import facility.
The measures include imposition of higher tariff and import entitlement on basis of production capacity while strong monitoring will reduce the misuse, the officials added.
According to a study, there is a demand for more than Tk 500 crore to Tk 600 crore worth of chemicals in the domestic market. The industry needs more than one million tonnes of bonded industrial salt annually for this purpose.
Tasnim Chemical Industries Ltd of Meghna Group, ASM Chemical Industries Ltd, Samuda Chemical Industries Ltd, Glove Chemical industries Ltd and S R Chemical industries Ltd are the main caustic soda producers in the country.
Besides, Teer brand of City Group, also have chemical industry, is going to set up refined salt plant in the country very soon.
The caustic soda manufacturers, many of them have refined salt plants, imported salt from India and other countries to meet the country's chemical demand.
SR Chemical Industries has manufactured more than 650 tonnes of liquid caustic and 450 tonnes of caustic soda and sold them in the domestic market.
The products are being used in textiles sector, paper mills, water treatment plants and disinfectant industries.
The annual production capacity of the factory is 54,000 tonnes, including 30,000 tonnes of caustic soda, 12,000 tonnes of bleaching powder and 12,000 tonnes of bleaching fine.
Nurul Kabir, President of the Bangladesh Salt Mill Owners' Association (BSMOA), told The New Nation, "Huge amount of salt have imported in the last few years by misusing duty facility. As a result, the local salt manufacturers are counting loses due to the uneven price competition."
"Following our repeated call for stopping salt import to protect local industries, the government has taken some steps in the current fiscal budget. We hope the measures will be implemented properly," Kabir said.
He also urged to take the salt importers into strong monitoring for survival of the local salt industry.
According to the data of Bangladesh Bank, 22.83 lakh metric tonnes of various types of salt was imported in fiscal 2015-16, 18.44 lakh metric tonnes in 2016-17, 22.52 lakh metric tonnes in 2017-18, and 7.58 lakh metric tonnes in 2018-19.
The BSCIC says the demand for salt for industrial use is around 9.5 lakh metric tonnes a year.
Demand for caustic soda is bound to increase rapidly as the country has a fast-growing textiles sector.

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