Bangladesh commerce minister Tofail Ahmed on Monday said that the government has decided to reinstate 28 per cent duty on rice import in the budget of next financial year 2018-19 to protect the interests of grows as the country has witnessed a bumper yield of aman and boro, the two major crops of the country.
‘Last year, we reduced the import duty on rice to 2 per cent from 28 per cent to meet the shortfall of the crops as flash floods damaged production of boro rice in haor areas. This year the country has witnessed a bumper production of rice and we should protect the interests of the farmers,’ he said at a briefing following a meeting with European Union ambassador Rensje Teerink at Bangladesh Secretariat.
The commerce minister said that against the production loss of 10 lakh tonnes of rice, the country imported huge quantity of the crops and now the stock of food grain was sufficient.
The 28 per cent duty on rice import would be effective from June 7, when the national budget for the 2018-19 fiscal would be placed in parliament, Tofail said.
‘Amid bumper production if we encourage rice import, farmers would not get the right price for their production and they would feel discouraged in producing crops,’ he said.
In June 2017, the government cut the import duty on rice to 10 per cent from 28 per cent to control the soaring price of the staple. The government later reduced the import duty to 2 per cent in phases to increase rice supply in the domestic market.
The commerce minister said that the government would reinstate the previous status of rice import through imposing 25 per cent import duty along with 3 per cent supplementary duty.
About the meeting with the head of the EU delegation, Tofail said that they talked about the fourth review of sustainability compact which would be held on June 25 this year in Brussels.
‘In the meeting, we discussed working together so that Bangladesh could get Generalised System of Preferences Plus benefits in the EU market after the graduation of the country to middle income from least developed one,’ the commerce minister said.
He said that a delegation from Bangladesh would take part in the review meeting and place the progress Bangladesh made.
‘We have already prepared the draft amendment to the labour law reducing membership requirement threshold for trade union registration and the International Labour Organisation is happy with the initiative. I hope the sustainability compact partners would also be happy with the progress that Bangladesh has made after the Rana Plaza building collapse,’ Tofail said.
Teerink said that Bangladesh made commendable progress in last five years but still many things needed to be addressed.
Following the Rana Plaza building collapse, the EU and other partners got engaged with Bangladesh in the sustainability compact with the aim of promoting improvements in labour rights and workplace safety in the country’s apparel sector.