Production of the hand sanitizer has effectively been halted since June
When the novel coronavirus broke out across Bangladesh in March, the country’s only state-owned distillery, Carew and Company, began producing hand sanitizer to meet the high demand from the people.
The sanitizer produced by Carew was initially sold at Tk60 for a 100ml bottle, which is much cheaper than alternatives available in the market.
“Carew and Company made profits of around Tk1.2 crore from hand sanitizer sales between March and June,” Fida Hasan Badsha, general manager (Distillery) of Carew, told Dhaka Tribune on Monday.
However, production of the hand sanitizer has been halted since June, he added.
According to various sources, private companies were not pleased when Carew began producing hand sanitizer and the state-owned distillery was also plagued by bureaucratic issues. Jahid Ali Ansary, the former managing director of Carew who initiated hand sanitizer production, received transfer orders the day after the company started producing hand sanitizer.
Mazharul Haque Khan, chief of marketing of Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation (BSFIC), said: “Due to our limited resources, we could not go for a massive hand sanitizer production. In addition, the Narcotics Department recently increased the excise duty on the sanitizer, so we are re-evaluating production."
Sources said the excise duty has been increased from Tk22 per litre to Tk115 per litre, bringing it in line with other alcoholic products.
Managing Director of Carew and Company Md Abu Sayeed told Dhaka Tribune: “Initially, we produced the hand sanitizer from denatured spirit and that’s why the production cost and the price was low. Now, we have to produce it using rectified spirits, so the excise duty is getting higher and also the price.
“According the guidelines of the WHO, hand sanitizer needs to produced from rectified spirit, which is the core ingredient of alcohol. That is why the duty of sanitizer and the duty of alcohol is becoming same,” he added.
Md Arifur Rahman Apu, newly appointed chairman of BSFIC, said: “We are going to re-launch the hand sanitizer with a new look and new price soon. We have already passed the proposal in a recent board meeting.”
He further said: “Initially, we launched liquid hand sanitizer in a plastic bottle. Now, we are going to launch a hand sanitizer spray in an attractive bottle, so that our product can beat the market.”
The new hand sanitizer will be priced at around Tk120, according to the BSFIC chairman.
Carew and Company started producing hand sanitizer on March 23.