• Thursday, Jan 27, 2022
  • Last Update : 03:32 am

Rice import duty to be cut by 18%

  • Published at 02:29 pm June 20th, 2017
  • Last updated at 12:51 am June 21st, 2017
Rice import duty to be cut by 18%
The government has decided to cut the duty on rice import by 18% amid the soaring prices of the staple food in the markets, officials have said. Besides, the government stocks have come down to lower than 1,90,000 tonnes in the wake of an insufficient supply from the ongoing rice procurement programme. The stock of rice stands at 1,81,000 tonnes till June 18, according to the Directorate General of Food. The price of coarse rice in the capital was increased by Tk5 per kg which is now selling at Tk48 at new normal from the earlier rate of Tk45. Stakeholders, however, said the price of rice is unlikely to come down in the local market unless the Indian course rice enters the market along with the Vietnamese rice being imported by the government. They added that the government will face serious problem despite the import duty cut if the Indian authority hikes its export price limit to Bangladesh. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed revealed the decision of reduction in rice import duty at a workshop on Tuesday. “We hope the price of rice will fall by Tk6 a kg after the import duty cut and import from the neighbouring country,” he said. He said following the NBR circular, a 10% duty will be slapped on rice import instead of previous 28%. In 2015, the government imposed a 15% regulatory duty and 3% supplementary duty for protection of local rice farmers. Tofail added that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took the decision to slash rice import duty during the cabinet meeting on Monday. Rice prices saw a sharp rise as the millers had to count losses due to recent flash floods in hoar areas in the country. Prices of coarse rice, which is generally consumed by the poor and lower-middle income groups, have shot up by 5% to 10% in grocery stores across the country. Usually, it is not possible to intervene in the market with only less than two hundred thousand tonnes of rice in the government’s hand. Naogoan Rice Mill owner Nirod Chandra Shah told the Dhaka Tribune there will definitely be a pause in the upward trend of rice price after the duty cut. “But it is our fear that the Indian authority might increase the price of their exported rice as our government reduces the import duty.” Nirod also mentioned that the Indian authority increased their export in recent years. He said: “The per-tonne cost of exported coarse rice is now only $420 while local coarse rice sells at between $480 and $500 in our market.” Former commerce adviser to the past caretaker government and chairman of Power and Participation Research Centre Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune “The government could take decision to reduce the import duty a couple of months ago. It has been too late for the government to decide on rice import from Vietnam, he added. In order to avoid an untoward situation, the government has to remove all bureaucratic tangles to facilitate the availability of rice in the market, he suggested. The US Department of Agriculture and Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) in a report said in Fiscal Year 2016-17, rice production in Bangladesh is likely to fall by 34.51 million tonnes due to reduced planting of its summer rice and increased winter rice production.
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