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Rice import

Traders eat benefits

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13th-Sep-2017       
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Anisul Islam Noor :
Importers, wholesalers and retailers are enjoying benefits of rice import at the decreased rate of duty.
Huge quantities of rice have been imported from different countries including India, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar. But the price is higher than it was before import.
The food market analysts said that rice syndicates are devouring the benefits of rice import at two per cent rate. They have set up a channel from border to rice wholesale markets to keep rice price high, they opined.
The analysts said, the big importers and traders are cashing in on the duty slash, depriving limited income group of people of benefits.
However, though the government reduced the import duty on rice to two pc only in August, the price of coarse rice is still hovering between Tk 46 and Tk 48 a kg at retail markets, according to trading sources.
Rice production is expected to decline by 20 lakh tonnes due to flash flood in the haor and northern regions.
In June, the government cut the import duty on rice to 10 per cent from 28 per cent earlier and again reduced it to two per cent last month aiming to raise the supply in the flood-hit country.
Following the initiative, import of rice increased sharply in the first two months of the current financial year, according to official data of food ministry.
It showed that private importers brought four lakh tonnes of rice just in last 60 days of the current financial year when total import was 1.33 lakh tonnes in FY'17.
Letters of Credit have been opened for importing another 15000 tonnes of rice which will land in the country within a month.
The government also imported 14000 tonnes of rice this fiscal while another 13.6 lakh tonnes of rice will be imported gradually, food ministry officials said.
Ranjit Saha, a Dinajpur-based importer told the reporter that they were now selling imported Swarna at Tk 36 a kg which was Tk 40 three weeks ago.
He said imports surged significantly as the government eased the duty.
He informed that importers in Dhaka imported a good volume of rice through Benapole land port this year instead of buying from the third parties.
But the low priced imported rice is yet to make any impact in the city markets.
Key coarse variety Swarna was selling at Tk 48 a kg while hybrid varieties at Tk 45-Tk 46 a kg at retail markets in Dhaka for last two weeks.
Price of medium quality Brridhan-28 remained static and it was trading at Tk 50-Tk 52 a kg.
The prices of finer varieties like Miniket and Jeerashail declined only by Tk 1-Tk 2 after the Boro harvest.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Secretary Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan said big importers and traders in Dhaka were pocketing hefty profits, depriving the limited income consumers in the capital.
He said the import cost for Swarna is maximum Tk 37 a kg now, but it is sold at Tk 46-Tk 48 a kg in city markets.
"Hybrid varieties are traded at Tk 37-Tk 38 a kg at mill-gates but selling at Tk 46 a kg at city retails," he said.
The government should step up its monitoring to minimize a huge gap between import costs and retail prices to give the low income people some sort of relief, he said.

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