Fixed earners suffer as coarse rice price hits all-time high

Dhaka,  Wed,  28 June 2017
Published : 18 May 2017, 22:01:59
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Fixed earners suffer as coarse rice price hits all-time high

CAB criticises discontinuation of directorate's OMS
Fixed earners suffer as coarse rice price hits all-time high
FE Report


Prices of coarse rice hit an all-time high of Tk 48 a kg last week, forcing limited and fixed income group to bear the brunt, officials said.

Apart from rice, prices of meat, fish, sugar, pulses, vegetables and some spices also went up affecting the poor consumers.

Coarse variety Swarna rice was selling at Tk 46-Tk 48 a kg in different places in the city last week rising by Tk 2.0-Tk 3.0.

The current price of the coarse variety is an all-time high, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) and Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM).

The variety witnessed an 11.6 per cent hike just in two weeks and nearly 38.0 per cent surge in six months in the city, said Tauhid Md Rashed Khan, an assistant director of DAM.

Visiting the Badamtoli and Babubazar rice wholesale markets on Thursday, this correspondent found prices of the coarse rice also rose by Tk 1.5-Tk 1.60 a kg in the last ten days.

Md Shahidul Islam, manager of Mayer Doya Rice Agency at Badamtoli, told the FE he brought a truck of Swarna (14 tonnes) at Tk 0.602 million on Tuesday, which was Tk 0.56 million a week back.     

"Millers tell nothing positive about coarse varieties, but say that Miniket and Brridhan-28 prices might decline slightly," he said.

Contacted, general secretary of Bangladesh Auto Major Husking Mill Owners Association K M Layek Ali said there was a shortage of coarse rice as the stock of Aman season variety Swarna had almost come to an end and the current season's hybrid paddy was yet to be milled.

Farm economist Prof Gazi M Jalil said the government immediately should review the current 25 per cent custom duty on rice import following a visible supply shortage of the staple amid the occurrence of flood and a rice blast.

He said duty on rice import could be 'categorised' based on varieties and import duty on coarse rice Swarna should be withheld to help reduce the price.

He said the government statistical agencies should provide authentic data on the recent crop loss by flood and rice blast, which is unavoidable for the policymakers to craft proper export-import policy.        

However, prices of other essentials have been showing a gradual rise as Ramadan nears, said market experts.

Sugar, chicken, fish, pulses including chickpea and green pea (khesari), garlic, onion increased between Tk 2.0 and Tk 50 a kg.

Garlic was sold at Tk 220-Tk 240 a kg (import) and Tk 120-Tk 140 a kg (local)-a Tk 20-30 hike in the last one week.

Fish also became pricier by Tk 40-Tk 50 a kg.          

Secretary of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan appreciated the food directorate's move to procure rice from global sources.

But he also criticised the state agency for stopping its OMS (open market sale) of rice in the city, which could offer relief to limited- income consumers.

"The Directorate should ensure that the majority of people who are suffering from inflationary pressure gets the supplies," he said.

He also pointed out that price monitoring by the government is almost absent, which has been encouraging a section of traders to dominate the market.

Mr Bhuiyan said the TCB's current small supply through OMS ahead of the fasting month hardly had any impact on the formal market.

"It (TCB) should ensure at least 10 per cent supply for the selected essentials to give limited income people a relief," he said.   

tonmoy.wardad@gmail.com
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