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Rice price high despite adequate import

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Anisul Islam Noor :
The consumers are hardly getting any relief in rice price though import increased all-time high in the country and notable fall of import cost.
Food Ministry and Bangladesh Bank data as per, rice import by the private sector increased to 1.04 million tonnes just in four months of the current fiscal.
A rice importer said, the private sector could import around 1.5 million tonnes of rice if the price remains stable in India and other Asian rice exporting countries throughout the current fiscal year.
He said import cost of Swarna was US$ 418-$ 430 a tonne including two per cent import duty at the end of October.
The food ministry data showed that rice import price from key global sources might be between $372 and $ 405 a tonne in November.
The total import cost of Swarna is now Tk 36-Tk 36.5 a kg inclusive of all costs. The cost was Tk 45-Tk 46 in August-September last.
He said Indian Ratna (Brridhan-28 produced by Indian farmers) rice is imported at Tk 40-Tk 41 a kg which was Tk 49-Tk 50 a kg in August-September.
The wholesalers and retailers are making undue profits as most of the rice varieties particularly the coarse, are still selling at a very higher rate.
A substantial gap exists between the importers' cost the retailers' level, particularly in the case of coarse varieties, market watchers said.
Import cost of Swarna, a coarse and popular variety, is now Tk 36.0 to Tk 36.5 a kilogramme (kg). The cost is inclusive of 2.0 per cent import duty and expenditure on transportation. The importers are marketing the variety at Tk 37-Tk 38 a kg. But Swarna is being traded at Tk 44-Tk 46 at the wholesale level and at Tk 46-Tk 52 a kg at the retailers' level, according to trading sources.
Similarly, importers are selling another medium variety of rice, called, Ratna (the variety known as Birridhan-28 in Bangladesh), and imported from India, to wholesalers of Dhaka and others areas of the country at Tk 42-Tk 43 a kg. But the same is being sold at Tk 50-Tk 52 a kg at wholesale and at Tk 54 and Tk 58 at the retail level.
Rice price declined to some extent in October following higher imports, but the same are still maintaining a very high level. The price of coarse rice was Tk 33-Tk 35 per kg in January this year, TCB data showed.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Secretary Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan said price difference between import level and retails is 34-35 per cent for coarse rice.

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