Oil price increase: Commerce Minister doesn't know

Commerce State Minister Ahsanul Islam Titu

Commerce State Minister Ahsanul Islam Titu

The price of soybean oil in Bangladesh has once again seen an increase, with consumers facing a rise of Tk 10 per liter, bringing the new price to Tk 173. This adjustment, effective from Tuesday, April 16, has stirred controversy, particularly as Commerce State Minister Ahsanul Islam Titu claims to be unaware of the decision.

During a session of "Meet the Reporters" organized by the Dhaka Reporters Unity, State Minister Titu stated, "I don't have any information about the producers increasing the price of edible oil." However, he assured that the Tariff Commission would soon decide on the new rates. Importantly, Titu emphasized that consumers should not expect a reversal to the previous price, indicating a permanent adjustment in the market.

The confusion surrounding the price hike deepened with a letter from the Bangladesh Vegetable Oil Refiners and Banaspati Manufacturers Association to the Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce on Monday. In the letter, it was highlighted that the Special Revenue Order (SRO) issued on February 7, 2024, governing the import and production of edible oil raw materials, had expired on April 15, 2024. Consequently, the supply of refined palm oil and soybean oil to the market would revert to pre-VAT prices starting from April 16 onwards.

According to the association's letter, the expiration of the SRO necessitated a reevaluation of edible oil prices, leading to the adjustment effective April 16. However, the discrepancy between the association's communication and the State Minister's denial adds to the uncertainty surrounding the situation.

With consumers facing increased prices and government officials seemingly at odds over the decision-making process, there is growing concern regarding transparency and accountability in the management of essential commodities such as edible oil. As stakeholders await further clarification from relevant authorities, the impact of the price hike on consumers and the broader economy remains a topic of keen interest and scrutiny.


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