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  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Onion import made duty-free

  • Published at 12:31 pm September 20th, 2020
Onion
File Photo: Prices of local onions Dhaka’s grocery shops and wet markets skyrocketed last week, which traders have blamed on a shortage of supply Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka tribune

Five online platforms begin selling onions at subsidized price

The government on Sunday withdrew the existing 5% import duty on onion in a bid to tackle the skyrocketing price of the key cooking ingredient.

Following the directives of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Ministry of Finance took the initiative.

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) under the finance ministry issued a statutory regulatory order (SRO) in this regard on the day, withdrawing the 5% import duty.

“With the withdrawal, onion import is now duty-free ,” Syed Golam Kibria, Member, NBR told Dhaka Tribune.

Onions import would be duty-free from tomorrow (Monday), as no other duties or taxes on onions is applicable on onions at import stage.

Considering the overall current situation, the decision will remain effective till March, 2021, according to the letter.

The market has been in turmoil since the Indian government recently announced a halt to onion exports. In such a situation, it’s expected that the withdrawal of the duty will keep the supply normal.

Earlier, the Commerce Ministry had written to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) requesting the withdrawal of the 5% duty imposed on onion imports.

On Wednesday, the Finance Minister said the withdrawal of the existing duty on onion imports would be considered.

Meanwhile, the government also inaugurated the online and subsidized sale of onions via e-commerce platforms to curb its price hike and make it available digitally for consumers.

Consumers will now be able to purchase up to three kilograms of onions at Tk36 from eight e-commerce platforms. The maximum limit would soon be increased to 5kg, said a press release.

Delivery charge of onions was fixed at a maximum of Tk30.

Five online platforms received dealership on Sunday, namely - Chaldal, Shwapno, Sindabad, SobjiBazaar, and Jachai, while three more will also receive their dealership licences soon.

The three remaining platforms are BdSole, Ekshop and another unnamed one.

Another e-commerce platform for women entrepreneurs, Windy, was also said to receive TCB dealership to sell onions online soon.

These companies received dealership after the government scrutinized their warehouse, delivery capacity and e-CAB recommendation.

The government expects the e-commerce platforms to initially sell 10,000 tons of onion.

Each of those e-commerce companies will receive half a ton of onions from the TCB each day. They can replenish their stock from TCB after every three days, the release added.

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi inaugurated the initiative, titled "Ghorey Boshey Shosthir Peyaj", in association with the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) and the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB).

During the launching, he said that the Commerce Ministry decided to sell onions via e-commerce as an alternative for those who cannot purchase it from open market sale (OMS) trucks.

He also assured the people that more onions were about to hit the markets as India allowed export of 25,000 tons of onions to Bangladesh on Saturday.

Onion imports from Myanmar, Turkey and other countries were also underway, hence there should be no onion crisis in the country, he added.

TCB Chairman Brig Gen Ariful Hasan said that although the OMS trucks were active across the country, this new pilot project would help those who prefer to purchase onions online rather than stand in long queues.

Shami Kaiser, president of e-Cab, said: “Today we have brought online onions for the people in collaboration with the government. Each of the organizations that will work in this project told us they will abide by the rules and will give priority to the service of the people more than their profits."

Chaldal director Ishrat Nabila said that they wanted to work with the government and work for the people, which was made possible through this project.

Md Jafar Uddin, commerce secretary, presided over the launching ceremony. Among others, top commerce ministry, TCB, e-CAB officials and those from the e-commerce companies were also present.

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