Economy

Centre moves to curb jute bag price manipulation

Jayanta Mallick Kolkata | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on April 11, 2016

The procurement prices of sackings are directly related to raw jute prices, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, responsible for procurement of bags, have been raising alarm since last December PV SIVAKUMAR





In a move to halt price manipulation of jute bags, the Centre has temporarily fixed a revised ceiling price for 50 kg foodgrain sackings procurement. The Jute Commissioner’s office has also inspected six jute mills in West Bengal on suspicion of wrong doings and initiated criminal proceedings against the management of the mills.

According to sources, the price of jute sackings, which is based on a cost plus formula, is normally fixed every month on the previous three months’ moving average price of raw jute and other cost such as power and labour.

Malpractices alleged

However, it is alleged that the “malpractices of handful of mills” saw the raw jute prices soar since the second half of November.

Since, the procurement prices of sackings are directly related to raw jute prices, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, responsible for procurement of bags, have been raising alarm since December last year.

It alleged some mills of raw jute price manipulation, including hoarding. The Ministry also suggested that the unfair practice would have an adverse impact on the subsidised procurement price of jute bags in the remaining part of the season until June.

Notional price

Concerned over unabated raw jute price rise, the Textiles Ministry swung into action in March and pegged the ‘notional’ raw jute price at around ₹5,090 a quintal, the lowest level witnessed in January.

This ceiling is to prevail until June and related to purchase of bags meant for packing rabi crops. The raw jute notional price translates the jute sacking price at ₹86,740 a tonne, lower than the ruling cost price of ₹89,000 a tonne.

Raw jute prices

According to raw jute market sources, the Centre’s moves, however, have not softened the prices of raw jute and currently prevailing at around ₹5,800 a quintal level. “There is a tight supply situation”, said a trader. He also indicated that in view of a nexus between a section of the jute traders and some mill owners, possibility of a supply and price manipulation could not be ruled out.

Jute bags used for packing foodgrains are considered essential commodities.

Official sources suggested that evidence of unfair trade practices were allegedly found in sacking manufacturing units such as Delta Ltd, Rameswara Jute Mills, JK Jute, Bally Jute Mills, Ambica Jute Mills and Agarpara Jute Mills.

Industry observers said that some jute mills might consider legally challenging the “notional” raw jute price fixation in court.

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Published on April 11, 2016
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