The government has decided on Wednesday to again temporarily suspend the prohibition set on the import of salt in the country’s import policy and authorise the import of 500,000 metric tonnes of crude (unrefined) salt in order to meet the domestic demand.
Estimates made by the Ministry of Industries state that the demand for salt in the country this year stands at 1.576 million tonnes. With the current salt production rate at 1.364 million tonnes, the clear deficit of 212,000 tonnes has pushed up the market price of local salt to Tk40 per kilo.
According to Commerce Ministry sources, the production of salt this year had been interrupted by the torrential rainfall and Cyclone Mora.
A press release issued by the Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday, stated that the present discrepancy in the demand to production rates had again prompted the need to import salt through the private sector and that the import of salt from select importers would begin within a few days, after the formalities were completed and a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) was issued.
It further stated that the government still encouraged farmers to produce salt according to the local demand and that the interests of the local producers would be protected, irrespective of the decision taken.
[caption id="attachment_72841" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Seawater is evaporated under the sun to produce salt at a salt field at Kutubdia, around 400km away from Dhaka Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Paritosh Kanti Saha, the owner of Pubali Salt Industries, said local salt producers and mill owners would be severely affected by this sudden decision.
In clear disagreement with the government’s decision and the Ministry of Industries’ estimates of the local demand and supply of salt, Paritosh clarified that the current year’s demand was closer to 2.2 million tonnes, setting the deficiency at closer to 700,000 metric tonnes.
Paritosh said if the government truly wanted to bring down the price of salt in the local market and protect local producers’ interests, it should allow all importers to bring salt into the country, but impose a greater tax on the imported salt. In his estimate, this would not only meet the local demands, but also bring down the current price of salt from Tk40 to Tk15 per kilo.
In 2016, citing a deficit between the demand and supply of salt, the government had suspended the prohibition and allowed select importers to bring in 2.5 million tonnes of unrefined salt in two phases.
Salt mill owners had disagreed with the government’s move to import salt. They had claimed that the demand for salt was 1.72 million tonnes and the production target was set at 1.6 million tonnes, while the actual production amount was closer to 1.627 million tonnes.
Leave a Comment