The government has decided to reduce the duty on rice import to 25 per cent from existing 62.5 per cent to keep the supply and price of the staple food stable on the local market, food minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said on Sunday.
Against the backdrop of recent price hike of rice, the government has decided to import the item and the prime minister has approved a reduced import duty rate at 25 per cent for the private sector importers, Sadhan said at an online press conference.
He said that importers would have to file applications with the food ministry by January 10 for getting approval for rice import.
The ministry would give approval to the importers in a restricted manner so that farmers are not affected with the import, he said.
Sadhan said that the government was aware of the interest of both growers and consumers.
The government has already floated tenders and signed contracts for importing four lakh tonnes of rice and has also signed government to government agreements for importing more 1.5 lakh tonnes of rice, the food minister said.
Replying to a question, the minister said that the government would not wait for rice mill owners for rice procurement, if necessary, it would procure paddy directly from farmers.
‘This year we will keep open the limit on procurement from growers but farmers are not selling their paddy to the government centres as they are getting higher than the government-set price for their produce on the open market,’ Sadhan said.
The government has formed a committee to determine standard prices for paddy and rice for the local market, he said.
The food minister also said that the production of aman was hampered due to flood and excessive rain but there was no shortage of rice in the country.
Food ministry secretary Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum said that although flood hampered the aman production, there was no shortage of rice in the country.
The government has allowed the import of rice so that it could intervene in the market if any unusual price hike of the staple food would take place, she said.
The prices of rice increased by Tk 8-10 a kilogram in the last one month on the markets in the capital, Dhaka.
According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, the prices of Najirshail and Miniket rice rose by 8.70 per cent in the last one month and the varieties sold for Tk 60-65 a kg in the city on Sunday.
The prices of Paijam and Lata increased by 14.14 per cent in the last one month and the varieties sold for Tk 53-60 a kg, the TCB data showed.
The government data also showed that the price of coarse variety of rice increased by 6.67 per cent in the last one month and the item sold for Tk 46-50 a kg on the markets of Dhaka city on Sunday.
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