Sodium sulphate can be imported at a very minimal import duty since it is used as a raw material in the garments industry
Salt industry owners yesterday blamed the use of sodium sulphate as an edible salt, import of finished salt in the name of sodium sulphate, and a dual policy on import duty as the reason behind Bangladesh’s salt industry’s setback.
Claiming that these undue practices have pushed the country’s natural salt industry to the verge of collapse, they made the remarks at a press conference, organized by 'Bangladesh Labon Mill Malik Samity’ at a hotel in Dhaka.
Considering harmful effects of sodium sulphate on the human body, they demanded to either ban, or impose a 100% customs duty on the import of the salt.
Speaking at the press conference titled "Market flooded with harmful sodium sulphate: Local industry on the verge of collapse", President of Labon Mill Malik Samity Nurul Kabir said that more than 300 salt mills have already shut down, while around 100,000 workers involved in the sector may lose jobs because of the dual policy and negligence of the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) towards salt cultivators.
"Additionally, consumers are being affected by various critical diseases including kidney, lever, and stomach problems by consuming sodium sulphate,” explained Kabir, adding that this could put the whole nation in a risk of severe health complications.
Sodium sulphate can be imported at a very minimal import duty since it is used as a raw material in the garments industry.
“However, a vested quarter is illegally producing edible salt from this chemical,” Kabir added.
The customs duty of unfinished bolder salt is 87-90%.
"While huge quantities of sodium sulphate are being imported with the help of lax laws, importing sodium chloride or edible salt is prohibited, unless there is a shortage of salt supply," said the salt association president.
Speakers also said that despite a demand of 20 lakh tons per year, salt production is decreasing in the country every year, adding that the country produces only 14 lakh ton per year.
“Despite the shortage this year, the government did not allow salt mill owners to import salt,” they complained.
Speakers further demanded to formulate a guideline for importing sodium sulphate and enhance vigilance regarding its use.