Tuesday, 17 May, 2022

Soybean oil price soars beyond reach

The price of edible oil has reached a record high in the country, making the daily essential product almost beyond the reach of low and middle-income people. It is observed that the price of edible oil has come to this level following the unstable retail price in the international market that prompted to increase the price of this daily essential at least eight times (by 70 per cent) in the last two years, more worryingly two times in the last month.

The crisis of edible oil, particularly soybean oil, in the domestic market has become intensified as some unscrupulous retailers and wholesalers allegedly stock up and refiners slow down delivery to make an unjust profit by fishing in troubled waters. However, in response to this current crisis situation, the FBCCI has sought VAT waiver on edible oil import for at least three months to keep the price of cooking oil stable during the month of Ramadan and to maintain an uninterrupted market supply in the face of increasing price in the global market. It could be a short-term solution to reduce the burden of common people for the time being.

However, there are other pertinent issues that deserve due attention, and letting them go uninterruptedly would hardly bring positive outcomes from the initiative. The tendency of making an unjust profit and, thus, creating syndicates of some dishonest businessmen is very common in our country. They keep not only the masses but also the government fretful. These businessmen should be checked and brought under the book to control the market.

The most important thing is that we have to work out ways to lessen our dependency on the global market for edible oil. So, we must shift our mindset to cultivating local oilseeds, which the nation was once fully self-reliant on. Serious attention demands the fact— whether it was just coincidental that while the demand for cooking oil was mounting, the production of local oilseeds like mustard, sesame, linseed was plummeting. Anyhow, along with taking a short-term policy, the policymakers must consider a long-term solution to make the country self-dependent in edible oil production.