No further price hikes will be tolerated in the coming month of October, says minister
The Ministry of Food, after a meeting with traders and stakeholders, on Tuesday fixed the prices of rice for the millers for the first time ever, aimed to keep the most essential item market stable.
The decision came after the ministry detected huge irregularities and unscrupulous activities in rice mills.
As per the new decision, the millers will sell a 50 kg sack of fine rice (miniket) at Tk2,575 and BR-28 at Tk2,550 effective Wednesday morning. The ministry however did not fix prices for coarse rice (mota chal), the most sold variety, as markets have run out of such items due to panic buying amid the recent price hike.
Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said that prices of rice had increased hugely in a week which was totally unexpected. "It is a bad sign," he added.
"In the market, we found that a group of unscrupulous traders had kept a lot of paddy and rice stored in about 50 closed mills," he said. No one had informed the authorities about the issue earlier, though many of the millers knew that.
The minister said that if anyone informed the authorities about such stored paddy or rice in future, he (informer) would be awarded the products at cheap prices.
Sadhan Chandra came up with the statement after holding a meeting with the millers, rice merchants, traders and other stakeholders at the Directorate General of Food office in the capital yesterday evening.
Market insiders said millers increased the price of rice to around 150-250 per sack in the last couple of days. Currently, fine rice (miniket) sells at Tk2,800 per sack, which was Tk2,550 just two weeks ago.
BR-28 rice sold at Tk2400 per sack in yesterday's market, but was Tk 2175 per sack a fortnight ago.
The minister warned the millers that if they did not comply with the instruction from Wednesday morning, fine rice would begin to be imported within the next 10 days.
As the coarse variety of rice was not available in markets at present, people could buy it from the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh's (TCB) outlets, he said, adding that the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection would monitor the price.
The millers at the meeting agreed with the ministry decision.
Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mill Owners' President Abdur Rashid said; "We are facing a shortage in paddy supply in our mills now, which is why we hiked the prices,"
"The minister told us they will retrieve the hoarded paddy and rice from the mills, and will give it to us at cheap prices," he said.
"So there will be no reason to increase prices if we get paddy at low prices," he added.