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Rice market unstable for slow pace in imports

Govt should import rice directly: Experts

  • ANM Mohibub Uz Zaman
  • 30 August, 2022 12:00 AM
  • Print news

The slow pace in rice imports by private companies has been creating an unstable situation in the rice market, making it difficult to keep the price stable.

Experts said the rice market will stabilise if the government imports rice directly and release it to the local market.

They also blamed the government for allowing rice imports by the traders who are actually the market manipulators. As a result, they said, the initiatives taken by the government to keep the rice price stable are not producing the expected results.

“The rice traders, millers and businessmen have been allowed to import rice. They are the main players behind the rice market manipulation,” Agro economist and researcher Dr Jahangir Alam Khan told the Daily Sun.

“Instead of importing rice, the traders have increased the rice price in the local market. They have forced the government to reduce import duty to only 5 per cent. But it will do much to contain the price hike of rice. Rice price, which has increased by Tk 10 per kg in the last few weeks, may reduce only by Tk 3-4 per kg,” he opined.

Private companies were allowed to import 10,10,000 tonnes of rice since June, but they only imported 49,000 tonnes till August 28, said Muhammad Mahbubur Rahman, Senior Assistant Secretary (External Procurement) of the Ministry of Food.

To meet the local demand and stabilise the rice market, the government slashed the import duty of rice two months earlier and also allowed private companies to import rice.

In a statutory regulatory order (SRO) issued on June 23, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) reduced the tariff on rice import from 62.5 per cent to 25 per cent.

However, rice prices remained high in the local market.  Then the governments later further reduced the regulatory duty on rice import by 10 percentage points on August 28.

Nirod Baran Saha Chandan, president of the Naogaon Paddy and Rice Wholesale Traders’ Association, told Daily Sun that the latest cut in import duty is likely to tame the rice market in a few days.

The government would allow 10 lakh tonnes of rice import initially; it might allow the import of another 7 lakh tonnes after evaluating the impact of rice import on the local market.

Fine-quality Miniket and Najirshail rice price has increased by 5.84 percent in a month and was selling at Tk 65-80 Tk per kg in the capital, according to the trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data.

The price of medium-quality Paijam and Lata rice has increased by 13.21 percent in a month and was selling at Tk 56-64 Tk per kg in the capital. The coarse rice price has also increased by Tk 15.31 per cent and was selling at Tk 55-58 per kg on Sunday.