The Bangladesh Competition Commission said it has noticed some dishonest businessmen are destabilising local onion markets in August, September and October every year by forming a syndicate. To break up the illicit group, the commission on Tuesday sat with several government bodies.
The commission has prepared one recommendation for the National Board of Revenue and two others for the agriculture ministry.
Representatives from the agriculture ministry, Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, National Board of Revenue, Bangladesh Tariff Commission and businessmen were present at the meeting.
Chairperson of the commission Md Mofizul Islam told The Business Standard the onion crisis is not a new one. Rather it appears almost in every year.
"And the so-called crisis occurs at a certain point of time in the year. It is prevailing a bit longer this year though. However, we will do our best for a permanent solution to it," added Mofizul Islam.
The commission is examining the intensity of the crisis and working to detect people responsible for it.
The Competition Commission is now prioritising its course of action for the next season.
For this year, it has decided to write to the National Board of Revenue seeking steps so that onions are not imported at a lower price in the peak season.
The commission may ask for a 'seasonal tax' on onion import in the peak season.
Mofizul Islam said, "Our farmers are incurring loss time and again. Onion import during peak season is hitting them hard every year. We will make our recommendations and take immediate steps for the farmers' sake."
Besides, the commission will send two recommendations to the agriculture ministry. The recommendations are — boosting onion production and improving the storage system, and enhancing the capacity of the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh produces 1.7 million to 1.9 million tonnes of onion annually and imports 700,000 tonnes to 1.1 million tonnes to meet the domestic demand. The importers bring onion mostly from India as the transport cost is low due to the proximity.
The price of onion in Dhaka's kitchen markets increased on an average by Tk30 per kilogram within a week, denting consumers' pockets.
On Friday last at Kawran Bazar, locally grown onions sold for Tk125-Tk145 per kg compared to Tk95-Tk110 only a week ago. Imported onions from India sold at Tk120-Tk140 per kg, up from Tk90-Tk115.