MNA Editorial Desk: The prices of all varieties of rice are increasing at a rate that even the sellers call ‘unusual’, without any good reason in the markets.
The state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh reportedly recorded a 47 per cent hike in the prices of coarse rice this month compared to the same period last year.
Rising prices of food items is a key concern for the government as nearly 31.5 per cent of its around 160 million people still live below the national poverty line.
As the domestic market has again become volatile in the wake of reports that paddy production is likely to fall this year due to flash floods and rice blast disease, prices have begun to soar since April.
However, government has already cut import duty on rice from 28 per cent to 10 per cent in a bid to stabilize the domestic market.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed announced termed the price hike an “artificial and temporary crisis” and claimed there is an adequate rice stock in the country. He said the price was expected to fall by Taka 6 per kg as a result of the duty reduction.
Owing to higher import duty placed in 2015 and 2016 in a bid to safeguard local farmers amid cheap prices from neighbouring countries, import dropped to a four-year low this year.
Tofail said the duty on import has been increased to protect farmers’ interests and ensure fair price for them. Meanwhile the government decided to import rice from Vietnam for over Taka 39 a kg.
The traders hiked the prices citing a slew of reasons including a supply glut, excessive rainfall and VAT on imported rice. However, the government should take necessary steps to control the price hike as early as possible.