Just like any other day, Rupam Rifat, a private firm staff, was busy at his desk in the office. Things were going well until he received a phone call shortly after lunch on November 19.
Rupam, not his real name, received the phone call from his elder sister. Now just guess what could be the issue! It is really sad to say that it was all about salt price that started shooting up to some extent for few hours based on completely a rumour!
What did Rupam hear from his sister? The answer will surely surprise you. “I heard salt will be sold at Tk 150 per kg from tomorrow, and I see some crowds around. Would you please buy some salt both for you and me today before it skyrockets tomorrow,” Rupam, a newly-married man, quoted her sister as saying.
Rupam took the message, and was not ready to waste a moment. He stormed out of his office and rushed to a nearby grocery store to buy salt, whatever amount is possible, for his family, sister and relatives who live nearby.
With the ghostly episode of onion in mind, Rupam planned to go for a big buying. He went for it like a grocer and bought 20 kgs of salt in a big sack at Tk 36 per kg when it was still selling at Tk 35 per kg!
Hours later, Rupam was cursing himself as he came to know that it was nothing but a rumour as the country has adequate salt in stock.
Asked whether he wanted to verify the information of possible price hike of salt from Wednesday what he heard from his sister, embarrassed Rupam said: “No, I didn’t. I should have done it before such huge purchase.”
The young man is now a bit confused what to do! He put the sack of salt in a room on his office floor in an effort to avert taunting by colleagues.
This is the eerie story of Rupam. Embarrassed with what he did, he wanted to share so that others do not pay heed to any rumour.
Rupam is one of the victims of rumour over salt price which actually led to quick vanishing of salt from some grocery stores and kitchen markets in the city.
On the salt issue, the government acted promptly and the mobile courts jailed eight traders, fined 15 people and dozens of stores, and held 52 people for stockpiling and selling salt for unreasonable prices.
It was clear that an unholy syndicate was trying to reap benefits by spreading misleading information through online media and the police headquarters requested people to dial 999 or inform their local police stations if shop owners demanded excessive prices for salt.
The government urged all not to get confused with misleading information over salt stock and price being spread by an unscrupulous group saying the current salt reserve is much more than the country needs.
“There’s no shortage of salt. At present, the salt stock in the country is much higher than the demand,” said Chairman of Bangladesh Small & Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) Md Mostaque Hassan. He said “The people of the country are requested not to get confused.”
The salt stock in the country was 6.50 lakh metric tonnes on November 15 and the country saw record salt production in 2018-2019 fiscal year – 12.24 lakh metric tonnes - which was much higher than the target.
The government says Bangladesh attained self-sufficiency in salt production due to hard work of the salt farmers and government’s policy support.
According to the Industries Ministry said some 4.5 lakh metric tonnes, out of the total 6.50 lakh metric tonnes of salt, are with the salt farmers of Cox’s Bazar and Chottagram while there is a stock of 2.45 lakh metric tonnes in various salt godowns across the country. The salt production season began this month and the new supply of salt, produced in Kutubdia and Moheshkhali upazilas of Cox’s Bazar, started coming to the market.
The monthly demand of edible salt in the country is more or less 1 lakh metric tonne whereas the current stock is over 6.50 lakh metric tonnes, said the Industries Ministry adding, “There’s no question of shortage or crisis of salt.”
The government said it appears that a vested group, in an unholy approach, is spreading rumor, to make hefty profit and destabilize the salt market.
The unedited platform - social media - turned out to be a means of spreading rumours to manipulate markets by unscrupulous businesspeople to make quick gains by fooling people and this menace has to be tackled through dissemination of authentic information fast.