There have been allegations of misrepresentation of the amount of salt produced in the country. Although the salt produced is more than required, imports are showing a deficit. Last year’s 254,000 tonnes of salt was still unsold to farmers. However, some traders are lobbying for the import of 3 lakh tonnes of salt to deal with the emergency crisis.
Marginal salt farmers are worried about the news of import. Recommendations for import have been sent to the Ministry of Commerce through the Ministry of Industries. The Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Commerce, Board of Investment Development and National Board of Revenue are allowing the import of salt separately. However, the exact amount of salt imported was not known.
When asked, BSCIC DGM Zafar Iqbal Bhuiyan said, “Four government agencies are allowing the import of salt separately. It does not store accurate information on demand, production and imports. We have only asked for the decision to import through the recommendation of the Ministry of Industry. Last year’s 2 lakh 46 thousand tons of salt is still unsold. I have heard that the mill owners have demanded the government to allow the import of salt.
According to the concerned, the annual market of salt industry in the country is about 25 thousand crore Tk. As a result, the interests of such a large industry as the salt industry are not being protected only through BSCIC. BSCIC is an agency of the Ministry of Industries. In addition to edible salt, salt is required in various industries, pharmaceuticals and raw hides. As a result, sporadic salt imports are being allowed. The Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Commerce and the National Board of Revenue are allowing the import of salt separately. A lot of salt is being imported due to the three-way decision. As a result, marginal farmers are not getting fair price of salt.
BSCIC has an office in Cox’s Bazar to monitor salt production. There is an officer with the rank of DGM. Demand of Salt Farmers and Mill Owners: If there is a deficit in salt production, then the decision to import salt can be taken by the local administration of Cox’s Bazar district, comprising representatives of mill owners and farmers. Now the decision to import is being taken through misinformation of salt production. Shamsul Alam Azad, former president of Cox’s Bazar Islampur Salt Mill Owners’ Association, said, “About 2 million tonnes of salt is being produced annually. There is no shortage of demand in the country. However, due to the weakness in the monitoring process, sporadic import of salt is being allowed. Its previous year’s stock was 3 lakh 48 thousand tonnes. These salts are supposed to meet the annual demand of the country.
However, Nurul Kabir, president of the Bangladesh Salt Mill Owners’ Association, claimed that the government was taking steps to import about 300,000 tonnes of salt. The Prime Minister will give final approval to the import proposal. About 20 to 30 percent of the target salt production is declining every year. As a result, the farmers will not be harmed,”said Kaiser Hamid, secretary of the Salt Farmers Welfare Council. Production costs have risen. Therefore, marginal farmers are being discouraged from salt cultivation. The amount of salt produced in the country does not require import. Even then, some unscrupulous traders are trying to import salt under various pretexts. During the season, farmers cannot sell mound (40 kg) for more than 170/180 Tk. However, different companies are selling Tk 20 to 30 per kg in the market. If the import of salt is not stopped, the salt industry of the country will suffer. ‘