With a few traders controlling the country's sugar market, the present high price of sugar at the retail level is unlikely to come down soon.
Neither the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) nor the Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation (BSFIC) has any plan to import sugar and sell the same at fair price to the consumers.
Sources said in spite of marketing of locally produced sugar by the BSFIC, the price of the commodity has been maintaining uptrend. The sugar sold to the BSFIC's designated dealers at a rate of Tk. 35 kg actually ends up in the godowns of, what many describe as, sugar cartel.
The dealers sell their allotment letters to the members of the cartel soon after receiving the same from the corporation. Thus, sources said, consumers have to buy the locally produced sugar at a price between Tk. 54 and Tk. 55 a kg.
Sugar traders said they are not that interested to import the sugar due to high cost of dollar, price hike of the item in the international markets and higher cost of freights.
Market operators said the price of the item has increased in the international markets due mainly to large scale production of ethanol from sugarcane by the Brazilian farmers.
Recently, Brazil, the world's largest sugar producing country, has been using the ethanol as an alternative to petroleum fuels.
Sources in the BSFIC said the annual demand for sugar in the country ranges between 1.02 million and 1.04 million tonnes. The country produces around 110,000 to 115,000 tonnes per year and the remaining demand of the item is being met through import, BSFIC sources said.
This year, the BSFIC has a target to produce 140,000 tonnes of sugar locally as against the production of 106,445 tonnes last year.
Until Sunday last, about 75,110 tonnes of sugar were produced in the country's 14 sugar mills since the beginning of sugarcane crushing season on November 8 of the last year, BSFIC source said.
The BSFIC sold 10,672 tonnes of sugar during the current month, 21940 tonnes in December and 10,775 tonnes in November through their appointed dealers.
BSFIC sources said every year they have to supply 11,000 tonnes of sugar to the Army, 2,500 tonnes to the police department, 70 tonnes to the fire brigade, 70 tonnes to the auxiliary forces and 70 tonnes to the cadet colleges.