The cabinet committee on government purchase yesterday approved a proposal to import 50,000 tonnes of wheat.
The committee gave the approval for the Directorate of Food to purchase the wheat from Singapore-based Agrocorp International for Tk 138.61 crore.
This is the first proposal for importing wheat to get approval this fiscal year.
Earlier the government fixed this fiscal year's budget with plans to import 4.80 lakh tonnes of wheat.
Abu Saleh Mostafa Kamal, additional secretary to the cabinet division, told a press briefing that each metric tonne of wheat would be costing $326.92 while each kilogramme Tk 27.72.
In case of rice, the government budget this fiscal year was shaped with plans to import 1 lakh tonnes. However, till date, the approval has been given for the import of 3.50 lakh tonnes by the purchase committee for the Directorate of Food to boost grain reserves.
Out of this 3.50 lakh tonnes, the committee on January 6 approved three proposals of the directorate for the purchase of 2.5 lakh tonnes from Indian and Singaporean firms.
Earlier in December 2020, the nod was given for the import of 1 lakh tonnes.
The food ministry is also planning to import more rice from India and Myanmar.
It has also allowed private firms to import the staple grain in order to increase domestic supply and contain volatile prices sweeping through local markets earlier this month.
The food ministry has so far given permission for the private sector to import 8.16 lakh tonnes of rice.
The food ministry on January 12 formed a "control room" to monitor and collect data on the import of rice by the private sector.
Six senior officials, including three senior assistant secretaries to the ministry, have been tasked with carrying out the coordination of the "control room".
The officials are expected to utilise a number of methods.
This includes keeping a tab on the number of letters of credit (LCs) opened against the approved amount, whether the imports were being made through L/Cs and disruptions in the import process.
It will also be noted where the imported rice was being sold and whether the field level officials of the Directorate of Food were monitoring these issues properly.
In yesterday's meeting the committee also approved a proposal of the Energy and Mineral Resources Division to purchase 30,000 tonnes of diesel from Numaligarh Refinery of India for Tk 107.72 crore for six months till coming June.
FINANCE MINISTER'S BRIEFING
During a briefing after the meeting, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal hoped for the United Nations Committee for Development Policy to approve Bangladesh's status graduation to a developing country in a second assessment this February.
He claimed Bangladesh had become eligible to get the upgradation from the least developed category on meeting all three of its criteria.
He said such an achievement around this time would be historic, especially because Bangladesh was observing the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman alongside its 50th anniversary of independence.