Staff Correspondent: The government will not allow packaging of rice for sale after buying those from open market, said Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder yesterday.
He also blamed six major industrial groups – Square Group, Pran Group, City Group, Akij Group, Bashundhara Group and ACI Group – for the sudden rise in rice prices in the country’s market.
“We are planning whether a circular can be issued restricting sale of rice in packets after buy those from the domestic market,” he said in a response to a question from reporters on the rice prices hike at the Secretariat.
“They may import rice paying 67 percent tax and sell those in packets. It is under discussion.”
“We have prepared a summary of the circular to send it to the Prime Minister. Besides, the Agriculture Secretary,
the Food Secretary, the Commerce Secretary and the Industry Secretary will hold a meeting over the issue,” said the minister.
If these companies have their own mill they can pack rice there. But the government will not allow the rice to be packaged after being collected from the market, he added.
Even if the industries have their own mill, they will not be able to stockpile rice beyond the approved amount as mentioned in license, said the minister.
On Monday, the Food Ministry launched a drive against illegal rice hoarders on instruction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to keep the price within the purchasing capacity of consumers and to keep the supply normal. She was also ordered taking action if anyone stockpiles rice illegally.
The food minister said they received information of illegal rice hoarding by Square Group and Akij Group in two places of the country.
“We have found an extra 5,000 metric tonnes of rice worth Tk 40 crore in a godown of Square Group in Dinajpur,” he said.
And the godown has been sealed and the authorities have been sued, he added.
Six companies were found to pack rice for sale at Tk 80-85 per kg after buying those at Tk 60-65 per kg in Naogaon, Dinajpur, Bogura districts.
“We have also found that those who are not rice traders are also stockpiling rice including brick kilns owners and primary school teachers,” he added.
He also urged the consumers not to stockpile rice for 4-5 months making the market unstable.
Sadhan Chandra also said the price will be normalised by importing rice if necessary to punish the rice syndicate. He said, “We harvested Boro, then Aush will be harvested, and by this time Aman season will arrive.”
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