Encouraged by a bumper yield and good stocks at home, the government has decided to export at least 50,000 tonnes of rice, first of its kind since the independence, to Sri Lanka in the current fiscal year.
The decision came at the cabinet meeting yesterday, two months after the government extended the ban on non-fragrant rice export until June 2015 in order to ensure good supply and control price hikes in the local market.
Notifying the cabinet about this year's rice production, Food Minister Qamrul Islam said the Sri Lankan government had sought one lakh tonnes of rice from Bangladesh.
In response, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who chaired the meeting suggested that he should better export 50,000 tonnes now considering the flood situation, cabinet sources said.
If there is a good Aman harvest, another 50,000 tonnes of rice will be exported under government to government arrangement, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury told The Daily Star.
Bangladesh has so far exported only aromatic rice in small quantities. In the last two fiscal years, export of aromatic rice amounted to Tk 77 crore, according to government statistics.
On the other hand, the government imported 3,000 tonnes of non-fragrant rice in the last fiscal year. This year the rice production has been satisfactory fulfilling the demand of the local market. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) projected a slight increase in the rice production this year.
Speedy Power and Energy Act
The cabinet yesterday also approved a proposal to extend the Speedy Supply of Power and Energy (Special Provision) (Amendment) Act-2014 for another four years till October 11, 2018.
The law aims at “quick disposal” of contracts in the power and energy sectors to meet the demand for power and energy in a short time.
Amidst criticism, the government enacted the Speedy Supply of Power and Energy (Special Provision) Act in October 2010 for two years. In September 2012, the government extended the timeframe for two years, which will expire on October 11.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said the law had been fruitful. It would not have been possible for the government to meet the growing demand for power and energy had it followed the traditional procurement laws and rules, he added.
Speaking about the power generation in the country, Hasina told the cabinet that her government wanted to set up a second nuclear power plant in the southern part to meet the growing needs of power.
PM ORDERS TO SAVE DHAKA
The prime minister directed the water resources ministry to take immediate steps to free the Balu river from land grabbers and connect it with Hatir Jheel lake so that flood water can be drained to prevent water-logging in the capital, sources in the cabinet said.
She also asked the authorities concerned to construct and repair roads in Dhaka city immediately to ease traffic jam. She advised the Ministry of Housing and Public Works to build a planned city in Purbanchal with modern facilities and broadened roads.