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Unscrupulous traders created artificial edible oil crisis: Fining them will not raise the cost

14 May 2022

The seizure of hundreds of thousands of liters of hoarded edible oil in the last one week has proved the claim that unscrupulous trader created the crisis to be able to sell the mainly needed cooking ingredient at higher prices. As different government agencies raid shops and warehouses, seizing large stockpiles of soybean oil, it becomes clear why soybean oil disappeared from most of the grocery stores across the country in the last week of April. Law enforcement agencies have seized around 3.5 lakh liters of edible oil in eight districts and fined the hoarders Tk 4.35 lakh.
The Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP) seized over 2.84 lakh liters of edible oil from warehouses across the country. The seized oil was later sold to the customers at the prices mentioned on the bottles. The recoveries came over a month after the DNCRP warned that mill owners, dealers, and wholesalers were out to manipulate the supply of edible oil, using the pretext of price hikes in the international market, Ramadan, and the Russia-Ukraine war.
Being pressured by mill owners and scrupulous traders, the commerce ministry on May 5 approved a price hike of soybean oil in line with the proposals made by importers, refiners, and wholesalers. The decision was aimed at ensuring a smooth supply of edible oil in the market. Edible oil supplies suffered hiccups amid the Russia-Ukraine war. To make matters worse, Indonesia, the biggest supplier of palm oil, imposed a ban on its export on April 28. Cooking oil eventually disappeared from most of the retail shops across the country in the run-up to Eid, when demand usually goes up.
The recoveries prove that the oil crisis has been artificially created "in the hope of making a quick buck after Eid". Strict measures must be taken so no one dares commit such crimes in the future. We must say the commerce ministry should undo the price hiking of edible oil. Besides, the government should provide support to produce oil seeds like Sunflower, Soybean, and rice bran oil to reduce dependence on imported edible oil.

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