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Bangladesh - Bank & Finance - January 5, 2023

Govt to suggest banks to reserve dollar quota

Industry Desk: The government will suggest the banks for reserving a certain amount of dollar quota to facilitate the businessmen on import of essential commodities before the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said this at a press conference on the stock and supply situation of seven basic commodities before the Ramadan held at the Ministry of Commerce at the Secretariat yesterday.
Alongside the Commerce Minister, Salman F Rahman, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Private Sector Industry and Investment, held the meeting with businessmen of essential commodities at the commerce ministry yesterdayto know the supply, stock and price level of basic commodities.
Senior Commerce Secretary TapanKanti Ghosh while responding to queries of reporters said if necessary, the Commerce Ministry would send notes to the banks so that the businessmen can import goods without opening letters of credit.
During the meeting, the traders sought a special quota for the import of essential commodities to ensure regular supply ahead of Ramadan.
Citing difficulty in opening letters of credit (LCs) for essential goods, traders put forward their demand in presence of Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Commerce Ministry Senior Secretary TapanKanti Ghosh and Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman.
In response, Tipu assured the concerned traders and importers that the proposal will be reviewed and discussed with the central bank.
He also hoped that the problem with opening LCs for daily commodities will be resolved soon.
“Arrangements will be made to stock six food essentials — edible oil, chickpeas, lentils, onion, sugar and dates — so that there is no supply crunch in Ramadan,” he added.
Mentioning that the price of sugar is slightly higher than other products, Tipu said that they have decided to send an official request to the NBR to reduce the duty on sugar.
In order to keep the commodity prices in check during Ramadan, he said it would be determined based on the average price of number of goods bought by traders. Moreover, markets will be monitored to ensure that the fixed rates are applied.
“A monitoring cell will check the retail market to determine prices in coordination with the import and supply of goods,” Tipu added.
The Commerce Minister also urged consumers not to stockpile an entire month’s worth of groceries during Ramadan to keep the prices under control.
The relaxation of the cash margin rate against the opening of import LCs is important to keep prices of daily essentials at a tolerable level and the supply adequate during the ensuing Ramadan.
The central bank fixed the opening margin rate for LC settlement at 75 percent to 100 percent in a bid to limit imports to save the depleting foreign currency reserves in the country.
Earlier, the central bank approved a 90-day deferral to pay import bills for eight essential commodities — edible oil, chickpeas, lentils, peas, onion, spices, sugar and dates — and allowed opening letters of credit with a minimum margin for these products based on the bank-client relationship.
The privilege will be eligible for the date of initiation of imports till March 31 this year.

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