Minister: No shortage of rice in the market

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi says traders have created an artificial crisis in the rice market

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has said there was no shortage of rice in the country.

He said although there was enough rice, traders created an artificial crisis in the market.

The minister was speaking at a press conference at the Secretariat on Thursday.

He said the authorities were conducting drives against rice hoarding across the country.

The commerce minister said: "Out of 170 million people in the country, 30 million are below the poverty line. I never said that 170 million people are rich. The reality is that 20% of people have a low income.

“If we subtract 30 million from 170, there are still 140 million people. Of them, about 45 to 50 million people have the purchasing power similar to that of Europe," he added. 

“We need to accommodate 30 million poor people, that is what we are doing. You know that people's purchasing power has increased.

Tipu Munshi further said the government will continue providing 10 million people daily essentials at a low price till the situation improves.

He added: "Our focus is on the interests of low-income people. It is not up to us to decide who will do what. We must look at the products that should be available at a fair price.”

The minister again reiterated the government’s position on not allowing the packaging of rice for sale after it is purchased from the open market,

"We are contemplating whether a circular can be issued restricting the sale of rice in packets after the rice is bought from the domestic market," he said.

Talking about the price of edible oil in the market at that time, the minister said: "The price of oil will not increase any further, it will go down soon."