Import of sugar gets govt nod
Singapore-based Agrocorp International PTE Ltd has got the nod to supply 50,000 tonnes of refined sugar to Bangladesh.
The cabinet committee on purchase gave the go-ahead to Agrocorp at a meeting at the Cabinet Division yesterday, with Finance Minister AMA Muhith in the chair.
The company will import sugar at $465.27 per tonne as the lowest bidder among two.
Industries ministry officials said the government has decided to import 1 lakh tonnes sugar to boost its stock and keep the prices stable.
According to an official at the state-run Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation (BSFIC), they took the initiative to import sugar so that the private importers cannot hike the price by creating an “artificial crisis”.
The BSFIC under the industries ministry produces sugar at 15 mills by crushing locally-grown sugarcane. It also imports sugar on behalf of the government.
Sources at the ministry said it had a stock of only 36,566 tonnes of sugar on November 2. The stock would come down to 16,364 tonnes after distribution of sugar among the law enforcement agencies.
Besides, production at the state-run sugar mills might stand at 80,000 tonnes instead of the targeted 1 lakh tonnes in the upcoming sugarcane crushing season due to damages to four mills in recent flooding in the countries northern districts.
The BSFIC is capable of producing 2.1 lakh tonnes of sugar a year, but it can't utilise the full capacity due to a shortage of sugarcanes.
To buy 50,000 tonnes of sugar, the corporation in September had invited bids from international suppliers and local refiners.
It received offers from two bidders. Of them, the Globepew Import Export Ltd, Dhaka (with its principal bidder M/S Agrocorp International) became the winner.
The other firm, Dhaka-based Ria International Co (with its principal bidder ED&F Man Sugar Ltd of London), quoted a price of $499.30 per tonnes.
In July, the industries ministry had requested the National Board of Revenue to waive the duty and Value Added Tax on the import of 100,000 tonnes of sugar. The revenue authority waived the duty and VAT accordingly.
The cabinet purchase committee in September had approved import of another 50,000 tonnes of sugar. The London-based ED&F Man Sugar Limited won the supply contract at $470 per tonnes.
Around 95 percent of the country's domestic demand for sugar is now met through imports due to scanty production of sugarcane. The country spends over Tk 5,000 crore a year to import sugar.
The China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation will build a 24-kilometre elevated expressway from Dhaka airport to Ashulia at a cost of Tk 10,950 crore.
The cabinet committee on purchase yesterday approved a proposal from the Bridges Division in this regard.
The expressway project will cost Tk 16,901 crore. China Exim Bank will provide 65 percent of the amount as soft loan while the Bangladesh government will fund the rest.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) gave the go-ahead to the project last month.
According to a document of the planning ministry, work on the project will begin this year and finish in June 2022.
The expressway will connect Hazrat Shahjahal International Airport to Abdullahpur, Ashulia, Dhaka Export Processing Zone and Chandra on the highway to the country's north.
It will be an extension of the 26-km Dhaka Elevated Expressway, which will connect the airport to the Dhaka-Chittagong highway near Shanir Akhra.
The Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology conducted pre-feasibility and detailed feasibility studies for the project in 2013 and 2016.
During Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Dhaka last year, the Chinese government had signed a deal with Bangladesh to finance 27 projects, including the Airport-Ashulia elevated expressway.