The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has doubled the regulatory duty on rice import to 20% from the existing 10% to ensure fair price for local farmers.
The customs wing of the NBR on Monday issued a statutory regulatory order (SRO) signed by NBR Chairman Nojibur Rahman to the effect of the duty hike.
According to the decision, 20% duty will be imposed on husked (brown) rice, fortified rice kernels, broken rice, and on semi-milled or wholly milled rice, whether or not polished or glazed during import stage.
Nojibur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune that the duty was hiked to ensure that farmers in Bangladesh get the fair price for the rice they produce.
The revenue authority issued the SRO within two weeks after Food Minister Quamrul Islam in November announced that the government was going to increase the import duty on rice to 20% from existing 10% to ensure fair prices for local growers.
Inn May this year, the government imposed 10% duty on import of above-mentioned rice patterns, except the fortified rice kernels with the same view.
The duty was imposed in line with recommendations from the Food Ministry to protect local farmers from fall of rice prices because of excessive import of the item and of increased domestic production.
Although Bangladesh is now self-sufficient in rice cultivation, the private sector has long been importing rice from other countries, mostly from neighboring India due to its cheap price.
According to the ministry data, the private sector has imported 2.03 lakh tonnes of rice from July to December 6 of ongoing fiscal year. The figure was 14.9 lakh tonnes in fiscal year 2014-15, the highest quantity since the financial year 2010-11.
Farmers have long been urging the government to increase duty on rice import as they were reportedly unable to recover cultivation costs because of imports from India at cheaper rates. Many millers have given up rice milling due to its excessive imports from India.
Millers, however, feared that the duty hike may not have that much impact if rice price falls in India.
Bangladesh Auto, Major and Husking Mill Owners Association general secretary KM Layek Ali told the Dhaka Tribune local millers were avoiding milling paddy fearing tough competition in the wake of rice import from India.
“Usually, rice price decreases in India whenever any such move is taken in Bangladesh. If the rice price does not fall in India, the duty hike will surely help local growers get proper price required for them to be in the market,” he hoped.
In India, non-basmati rices were selling at Tk29 per kg against Tk35 last year in the wholesale market, as reported in November. On the other hand, the wholesale price of premium basmati rice was sold at between Tk53 and Tk54 a kg down from Tk73-Tk75 last year.
However, according to a study by Associated Chambers of Commerce of India, rice prices may shoot up and reach a boiling point in coming months creating trouble for consumers if timely adequate safeguards are not taken.