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A ‘sea’ of illegally hoarded edible oil seized

Published : Saturday, 14 May, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Count : 171

A ‘sea’ of illegally hoarded edible oil seized

A ‘sea’ of illegally hoarded edible oil seized

Just when the country is reeling from an all-pervading edible oil crisis - two mobile courts have reportedly seized 99,812 litres of soybean oil illegally hoarded in three warehouses in Khulna and Natore.

On Thursday, a mobile court run by the Rapid Action Battalion raided the warehouses at Khulna city's Boro Bazar and recovered the stockpile. They fined three companies a total of Tk 160,000. Being tipped off by reliable sources, the authorities raided those warehouses and recovered 73,032 litres of soybean oil and 163,608 litres of palm oil.

And in the bigger picture, up until 13 May law enforcers seized around 3.5 lakh litres of edible oil in 8 districts and fined the hoarders Tk 4.35 lakh. Once again, two thirds of the recoveries were made in three warehouses in Khulna.

Recent drives by confiscating huge amounts of illegally hoarded edible oil in the past week only re-confirms the fact that  unscrupulous traders have generated the crisis , so to sell cooking oil at higher prices. Moreover, it now becomes clear why soybean oil disappeared from most grocery stores across the country in the last week of April while the shortage persists.

However, numerous mill owners, dealers and wholesalers have manifestly played out the sinister hoarding game to manipulate the supply of edible oil - using the pretext of price hike in the international market, Ramadan and Russia-Ukraine war. More to it - the blame game orchestrated by companies, traders and wholesalers since the run-up to Eid days also don't hold a solid ground.

Over the past year, the price of edible oil has gone up eight times. While the government has little control over external shocks, it can at least ensure ordinary citizens not to turn victims of artificial price hike. It must prevent unscrupulous traders from calling shots in the domestic market and that it is representing the best interests of the consumers, not that of traders.

It is long overdue - the government wakes up to the growing miseries of our ordinary consumers in kitchen markets - not only for the sake of controlling price of edible oil but all kitchen essentials.  

We have repeatedly penned urging authorities to take steps to reign in price manipulation mechanisms at each of the four stages of the value chain within the country - involving refiners, dealers or supply order traders, wholesale traders and retailers.  

Now that key reasons behind the artificially generated crisis have been exposed, it is time to take exemplary actions against the organised culprits. Resorting to mere legal action is not enough, it is crucial to restore discipline in the essential commodity and kitchen markets.

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