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Govt fails to rein rice market despite various steps

Golam Mostafa Jibon: Despite different initiatives of the government, country’s rice market is not coming under control due to influential syndicate of the traders and millers.
It is known that, government initiatives are not coming to effect. In the last few weeks, the prices of Miniket and Nazirsal rice have increased by Tk 1 to Tk 2 per kg.
On the other hand, though the government has been allowed import due to dollar crisis and high prices, there is no momentum in imports. Traders are not interested in importing rice in large consignments with higher prices. This is why, the price of rice has also increased in the market. Traders are less interested in importing.
In order to control the rice market in the country, around 12,225 metric tons of rice has been imported from India. But the price of rice in the market has started increasing instead of decreasing, according to the sources of the Ministry of Food. Such information was come to notice, while visiting some markets including Krishi Market, Babubazar, Badamtali, Raisaheb Bazar and Sutrapur Bazar in the capital yesterday.
Food Ministry Secretary Ismail Hossain said, “We do not have any news of rice price increasing. We are monitoring the market price daily. At present, the price of rice in the market is stable. Maybe the price has increased at some places by traders.”
How many tons of rice was imported through which ports, it cannot be revealed now by the ministry. It will take time to get complete import data, they said.
The government has allowed the import of rice and reduced the duty at the same time. We have extended the LC opening till 12th August. It is expected that more LC will be opened by this time. Above all, we have a good supply chain. There is no reason to worry, he said.
At present, there are 17 lakh tons of food grains in stock. The price of rice has increased at an unusual rate even in the peak season of this year. To keep prices stable, the Food Ministry and the National Consumer Affairs Department conducted a month-long joint operation in the rice market. After this, the initiative to import rice has been taken. Import duty has been reduced from 62 percent to 25 percent. Since June 30, some 380 companies have been allowed to import more than 1 million tons of rice in several rounds.
According to the government organization Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), coarse rice is being sold at Tk 48 to Tk 52 in the capital market. Medium rice is being sold at Tk 52 to Tk 58 and fine rice at Tk 64 to Tk 75 per kg.
Even in the peak season of rice, the price of this food product is rising in the country’s market. The government has given opportunity to traders to import rice at low duty to keep the price under control. So far, about 9.10 lakh tons of rice has been allowed to be imported in four phases. Still, the price of rice did not decrease in wholesale and retail markets of the capital. Prices of almost all types of rice are increasing by Tk 1 to Tk 2 per kg in the retail market daily. Miniket rice is being sold between Tk 66 and Tk 72 per kg depending on the quality.
Accordingly, each 50 kg bag of rice is being sold at Tk 3300 to Tk 3600. Nazirshail is being sold at Tk 74 to Tk 82 per kg with an increase rate at Tk 2. A sack of Nazirshail rice is being sold from Tk 3700 to Tk 4100.
BR-28 variety of rice is being sold at Tk 56 to Tk 58 per kg, up by Tk 2, while a sack of 50 kg is being sold at Tk 2800 to Tk 2900. However, prices of coarse rice remained unchanged. This quality of rice is being sold at Tk 48 to Tk 52 per kg. In less than a week, the wholesale price of coarse rice has increased by Tk 25 to Tk 50 against per 50 kg bag. The price of Miniket has increased up to Tk 100 per bag.
In wholesale, coarse rice B-28 and Paijam are being sold at Tk 2400 to Tk 2600 per bag of 50 kg, a sack of Miniket fine rice at Tk 3,000 to Tk 3250 and Nazirshail at Tk 3500 to Tk 3700 per 50 kg bag.
Wholesale traders said that, due to the shortage of rice in the country’s market, the government reduced the duty and allowed the import. But, the importers are not getting courage because of the increase in dollar price. However, the companies that have already imported rice have all been caught. As a result, the price of imported rice is not decreasing in the country’s market. Rather, the market price is increasing. However, the Food Ministry hopes that prices of the country’s staple food product would begin to fall after rice imports begin.
Joynal Abedin, a trader of Karwan Baza’ar Market said that, the price has not decreased yet at the wholesale level. Imported rice also did not enter the market. Because of this, the price is not decreasing.
According to some market monitoring organizations including buyers, the government has taken various initiatives including carrying operations by the Ministry of Food and the National Consumer Directorate, giving permission to import and reduction of duties to control the rice market. But still the rice market is unregulated. At the consumer level, there is much suffering and it will take serious turn in the future.
Nizam Uddin, General Secretary of Babu Bazar Rice Traders’ Association of the capital said, “After seeing the government campaign, I thought that the price of imported rice will come down in the market. But now the picture is reversed. Importers are releasing rice in the market at higher prices, due to which the prices are increasing again. Because of high dollar value and higher prices in India, the cost of importing rice has gone up.”

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