Uncontrolled import of industrial salt destroys local salt industry28 July 2021 Editorial Desk
A report in the New Nation on Tuesday said uncontrolled import of mineral salt under the cover of industrial salt is distorting the domestic market. It is causing uneven competition with local salt producers causing them to suffer huge financial losses. Many of them can't even sell their stock at the end of the year because the imported salt is cheaper. Evidently, some big business houses are importing industrial salt mainly from India to produce caustic soda for industrial use. But they refine part of the low quality industrial salt at their plants and then sell it in the domestic market as edible salt. They are misusing the low tariff rate allowed for industrial raw materials, affecting public health and destroying the local salt industry.
The report said Industrial salt importers are running this mischievous trade in collaboration with a section of officials of the customs directorate and the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC). Importers declare the consignments as industrial salt but bulk of it goes to the local market as low cost salt beating local supply. It needs no mention that the oversight agencies are routinely collaborating with the fraudsters in misuse of the tariff facilities and allowing the marketing of industrial salt as edible salt.
BSCIC officials' claim that various measures have been taken in the current budget to prevent such misuse of industrial salt import amply suggests that such things are happening in their knowledge. Its impact on public health is a big cause of concern. Some estimates suggest business houses import around one million tonnes of industrial salt annually but they use about half of it for industrial use such as in textiles sector, paper mills, water treatment plants and disinfectant industries. But the bulk of it is being sold in the domestic market as edible salt.
Salt crisis is a regular phenomenon during Eid-ul-Azha for processing rawhide. Importers exploited the situation this time also, slowing supply for higher prices which in turn affected rawhide preservation. We understand that big merchants' ill-gotten money is enough to buy the administration's silence. But there must be an end to it. We would say the fraudsters must be held accountable and dishonest importers punished.