Govt to import 2.5 lakh tonnes of rice
The government is going to import 2.5 lakh tonnes of white rice from Cambodia at a price which is 5.34 percent higher than the rate it paid to Vietnam as it seeks to boost stocks.
The cabinet committee on purchase yesterday approved a proposal to bring in 2.5 lakh tonnes of rice from Cambodia under a state-to-state arrangement at $453 per tonne.
Earlier in June, the government decided to import 2 lakh tonnes of white rice from Vietnam through state-to-state arrangement at $430 a tonne.
Yesterday's price is also higher than the international market rate this week.
The price of rice was $425 per tonne in Thailand, $435 in India, $445 in Vietnam and $403 in Pakistan this week, according to food ministry data.
Compared to neighbouring countries, the price of Cambodian rice is usually higher as the country does not use chemical fertiliser and pesticide in rice production, said a food ministry official.
The official said Cambodian rice has a reputation in the international market.
The purchase committee also approved imports of 50,000 tonnes parboiled rice through bidding at $407.89 per tonne. The lowest bidder, Regington Enterprises Ltd, will supply the staple.
In total, the import of 3 lakh tonnes of rice will cost Tk 1,109 crore.
In the second week of August, the purchase committee gave consent to three deals on food grain imports, including 1 lakh tonnes of wheat and 50,000 tonnes of boiled rice.
The development comes as rice production suffered major losses due to flash floods and fungal attacks.
The flash floods in six northeastern haor districts and the fungal attacks (rice blast) in 19 districts during the boro season led to the loss of 20 lakh tonnes of the staple, according to the food ministry.
At least 20 districts in the north and elsewhere have been flooded in the past few days, which might affect the aman crop.
The rice imports from Vietnam and Cambodia aims to raise the country's food grain stock, which went below 2 lakh tonnes in recent times.
Thanks to a number of recent government initiatives, rice stock increased to 3.16 lakh tonnes on August 21.
A cabinet committee meeting last week decided to import 20 lakh tonnes of food grains -- 15 lakh tonnes of rice and 5 lakh tonnes of wheat -- this fiscal year.
This is 11 lakh tonnes more than the government's earlier projected food import volume of 9 lakh tonnes.
Over the past two months, the cabinet approved proposals to float tender to import 3.5 lakh tonnes of rice. Yesterday, the cabinet also approved the import of 1.38 lakh barrels of octane from Indonesia's state agency PT Bumi Siak Pusako Zapin under a government-to-government arrangement at a premium of $4.55 per barrel.
The committee also approved a proposal to import LNG from Qatar and gave the go-ahead to purchase electricity from a number of private power plants.
United Enterprise will set up a 115-megawatt diesel-based power plant in Jamalpur district. The government will buy electricity from the plant at Tk 8.73 a kilowatt hour.
Besides, the tenure of two existing power plants was extended by five years. During the extended period, the government will buy electricity at Tk 2.51 per kWh from Ashuganj 55MW plant owned by Precision Energy Ltd. Earlier the tariff was Tk 2.91.
The government will pay Tk 11.53 per kWh to buy power from 100MW Powerpac-Mutiara Keraniganj Power Plant Ltd.