18/02/2008 (The Daily Star) - Prices of edible oil at both retail and wholesale levels registered a fresh hike of Tk 7 to Tk 10 in the last couple of days -- apparently due to price manipulation by a section of unscrupulous traders, said market operators.
A litre of non-brand soybean oil was selling at Tk 108 to Tk 115 yesterday at retail outlets, whereas the price was between Tk 98 and Tk 108 only two days ago, said a number of traders.
Retail price of non-brand mustard oil was Tk 120 to Tk 125 per litre yesterday while it was Tk 110 to Tk 115 a litre on Friday.
Soybean oil at wholesale level was selling at Tk 3,880 to Tk 3920 per maund (37.200 kg) compared with Tk 3,560 to Tk 3,600 per maund two days back, said the market operators.
Super palm oil at wholesale markets was selling at Tk 3,720 to Tk 3,750 per maund compared with Tk 3,500 to Tk 3,520 per maund previously, traders said.
Palm oil was selling at Tk 3,590 to Tk 3,630 per maund compared with its previous rate of Tk 3450 per maund.
Price of mustard oil at wholesale markets was Tk 114 a litre yesterday compared with Tk 105 two days ago.
However, the prices of branded edible oil remained unchanged in city markets due to strict monitoring of law enforcement agencies, traders said.
Since February 6 this year till date, Soybean oil prices saw an increase of around Tk 14 on an average at both retail and wholesale markets.
Owner of a small restaurant at Tejgaon in the city said he had bought soybean oil at Tk 99 a kg on Friday, but on Sunday he had to buy the same at Tk 108 per kg from Karwan Bazar wholesale market.
Speaking with The Daily Star, traders at the city's Moulvibazar wholesale market blamed the recent price increase on the artificial crisis created by a cartel of middlemen and oil refiners.
The unscrupulous middlemen, mostly known as DO traders, buy up large quantities of oil from oil refineries with advance payments and receive demand orders (DO) from the refineries. The refiners at this stage take the opportunity to jack up the price of oil, said sources at the wholesale market.
The DO traders, with the connivance of brokers, then spread false rumours of price increase on international market or supply shortfall at local oil refineries. Being convinced, the wholesalers agree to buy the oil or DOs at higher prices from the DO traders through the brokers, added the sources.
"As a result, within a short span of time, the prices of edible oil went up unusually," said a trader at the Moulvibazar wholesale market requesting anonymity.