Friday, 20 May, 2022

Cops, DNCRP on field to arrest price hike

In the wake of soaring prices of essential commodities, law enforcers and the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP) are on the field, taking action against unscrupulous traders to arrest the price spiral.

The prices of essential products, including soybean oil, have skyrocketed in the country with sellers reportedly hoarding soybean oil, creating an artificial crisis. They are also charging customers more than the retail prices of the products.

Under such circumstances, the government has tightened monitoring to tame the heated market, home ministry sources said.

The law enforcers and DNCRP are conducting drives in different markets and oil refineries across the country, including the capital.

They are taking punitive measures against dishonest businessmen responsible for creating artificial crisis, hoarding essential goods, including edible oil and onion, and hiking their prices.

Meanwhile, the district administration of Chattogram has decided to bring the market of consumer goods under its control.

Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Mominur Rahman told journalists on Monday that the district administration will take over the control of the consumer goods market from today.

No one will be allowed to make profits by destabilising the market or make extra profits by illegally hoarding items, he said, adding that there are enough products in the market. “There’s no shortage of products. I urge buyers not to go for panic buying ahead of Ramadan. There’ll be no crisis of items in the market.”

On Sunday, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said the government will form a task force in a day or two to check the price hike. "Some traders are trying to take the advantage of the rising prices in the international market. But we’ve fixed the price through talking with the traders. We won’t allow hoarding anywhere," he said after an inter-ministerial meeting at the secretariat.

Tipu said the task force will conduct drives to monitor the prices of essentials in the market.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet on Monday directed the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to take immediate steps to curtail VAT on edible oil import to the lowest ceiling in the wake of the rising price of the essential item.

A mobile court fined two business establishments for hoarding 81,500 litres of soybean oil in Jamalpur on Sunday.

Melendah Additional Assistant Commissioner Md Serajul Islam fined Messrs Topu Enterprise Tk 20,000 and Janani Tel Bhandar Tk 10,000 during the drive.

Serajul Islam said they found 56,000 litres of the cooking oil in 376 drums at Topu Enterprise.

The owner did not have necessary documents or receipts, he said.

Meanwhile, Janani Tel Bhandar hoarded 25,500 litres of oil in 166 drums.

On March 9, the DNCRP recovered 112 litres of soybean oil from under a seller’s bed in Cumilla.

Chattogram-based S Alam Vegetable Oil Limited was found charging additional Tk 40 on a 5-litre bottle of soybean oil.

It printed Tk 835 price on the bottle while the government fixed the price at highest Tk 795, according to an official.

The company also allegedly closed the refinery and oil bottling sections amid an acute crisis of the cooking oil.

In a drive on Sunday, the DNCRP noticed that palm oil was being supplied in drums but there was no expiry date and price sticker on the drums, assistant director Md Anisur Rahman of Chattogram DNCRP told journalists.

The DNCRP officials asked the company to go for production immediately to keep the oil market stable.

The DNCRP also fined Bismillah Super Shop Tk 15,000 at Bakalia for allegedly taking Tk 5-15 more for a bottle of soybean oil.

On Saturday, police arrested a government official and seized 512 litres of cooking oil from his possession in Dhaka’s Mohammadpur.

The official, who has been on his pre-retirement leave, illegally stockpiled soybean oil to sell at a higher price ahead of Ramadan, the law enforcers.

 A police team discovered oil in a flat at his in-law’s house on Friday, said Biplob Kumar Sarkar, deputy commissioner (Tejgaon division) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.