The food ministry has put the blame on the commerce ministry for recent price hike of rice.
The commerce ministry has been accused of wasting time before deciding to cut back on import duty, allegedly for which rice prices spiralled out of control.
During a parliamentary committee meeting, officials of the food ministry commented that the commerce ministry should have reduced import duty of rice “in time, and at once”.
Meanwhile, the World Bank stated that the government indecision over procurement and tax cut in import has contributed to the price hike of this staple grain recently. Flood in haor areas and later in other parts of the country had been the key reason for price hike as it hit rice production, according to WB.
However, the food ministry claimed that instead of cutting import duty at a time, the government did that in phases. This caused a good number of rice-laden trucks deliberately waiting on the border to enjoy more duty cut and pushing up the prices. Neighboring country India, a major rice exporter, raising rice prices did not help the situation either.
Notably, the Bangladesh government revised import duty from 25 percent to 10 percent in June this year due to massive crop losses in flooding. This move also withdrew the 3 percent regulatory duty required to import rice. Import duty was then further cut to 2 percent in August in an effort to curb prices.
In September, prices of per kilogram of rice in different categories went up from 8 tk to 10 tk. This led to the government cutting import duty by 26% and allowing import of rice in poly bag instead of jute sack.