The government has decided to cut the import duty on rice by another 5% to make the essential commodity more affordable for consumers.
The decision came at a meeting held at Jatiya Sangshad on Tuesday following Monday’s Cabinet meeting, when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina instructed the authorities concerned to effect the decision.
Once the decision comes into effect, the import duty on rice will be halved from the existing 10%. The meeting also discussed the recent hike in the price of onions caused by floods across the country.
The chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce Ministry, Tajul Islam Chowdhury, said the import duty on rice had already been cut once, to 10% from the previous 28%.
“Prime Minister on Monday reduced the duty by another 5%, which means it will have only 5% import duty now. We expect that rice price would come down further thanks to the new move,” he said.
“There is no reason for hiking rice price as there is a lot of rice in the stock. Rice prices saw a rise as the people were in a panic due to floods and conspiracy by some people with ill motives,” he added.
Another member of the committee, AKM Bahauddin, said the meeting also discussed prices of several other commodities including onion and salt but the authorities concerned have yet to issue any gazette.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said the Finance Ministry would issue a gazette in this regard.
Meanwhile, several hundred rice-laden trucks remain parked at Hili Land Port in Dinajpur because of the information that teh rice import duty may drop in Bangladesh.
Onion price hike
The Commerce Ministry informed the parliamentary standing committee that the prevailing flood situation resulted in a hike in onion price.
“The onion price was quite lower for some time. Consumers got angry, with the price going up. They must have patience,” Bahauddin said.
“We import onions from India when a flood occurs in Bangladesh. But this year, prices have gone up there as well because of floods. The price has also increased as the Eid-ul-Azha is nearing fast.”
Bahauddin said the ministry was monitoring the issue. “Everything will become normal soon,” he said.
Appointment of new TCB dealers
The committee made several recommendations for appointing new dealers in districts and upazilas and emphasised monitoring the whole system so that people can easily buy commodities from Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).
It also underscored the need for befittingly holding the International Trade Fair and recommended the ministry take necessary measures so that it can contact organisers to make sure Bangladesh’s pavilions are allotted important places at the fair.