No change in duty on rice import despite domestic price surge

02.06.2017

The government has kept the customs duty (CD) on rice import unchanged despite a surge in the prices of the staple food in the domestic market.

The FY18 budget has proposed to keep the CD unbothered to ensure fair prices of farm produces.

The food minister last month assured that the import duty on rice would be relaxed for the private sector, which has not been reflected in the budget.

The CD on rice import remained static at 25 per cent at a time when prices of the staple, especially that of coarse variety, was showing an all-time high in the domestic market.

The current rate of coarse rice is also one of the highest in the globe, according to the food ministry.        

Prices of coarse rice have surged by 42-43 per cent in Dhaka and 69-70 per cent in rural areas in last six months, the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) and Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM) data showed.

Coarse variety Swarna was selling at Tk 46-Tk 48 a kg in Dhaka.

Medium quality Brridhan-28 were trading at Tk 50-Tk 52 a kg and finer quality Miniket and Najirshail Tk 55-Tk 62 a kg in the city - 18 per cent hike in last six months.

Agriculture economist Prof Gazi M Jalil said poor people in Bangladesh were consuming coarse rice at all-time high price.  

He said the government's intention was good for the farmers but it should also consider the interest of the 50 million ultra poor.

He said the production of rice will decline this FY considering the devastating flood in haor region and occurrence of rice blast in a vast area.

"Import duty on off-season coarse varieties like Swarna should be reviewed immediately till Aman harvest, which will not affect farmers but would benefit the consumers," he said.         

The government rice stock reached a record low of only 0.213 million tonnes on Wednesday.

However, the food ministry is now on a move to bring 0.9 million tonnes of rice from the global sources.   

The country has targeted to produce 34.98 million tonnes of rice in the outgoing fiscal year which would be tough to achieve amid the flash flood and outbreak of rice blast, said experts.   


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