Over 10 lakh tonne rice to be imported by June | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 13, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 13, 2008

Over 10 lakh tonne rice to be imported by June

Claims food adviser

Over 10 lakh metric tons of rice will be imported through public and private channels chiefly from India and Myanmar by June, Food and Disaster Management Adviser AMM Shawkat Ali said yesterday.
Of this, the first consignment of 1 lakh out of 5 lakh metric tons of rice procured from India by the government will start arriving Saturday, the adviser told The Daily Star last night.
On March 17, Bangladesh officials will sit with their Indian counterparts to fix the date and other details of importing the rest 4 lakh metric tons from four trading houses nominated by the Indian government, he said.
Meanwhile, the ministry is going to place a proposal for purchasing 20,000 metric tons of rice from Myanmar at today's meeting of the purchase committee.
Asked whether the import will have positive impact in reducing the price of rice, the adviser said, "Availability (of rice) is not the problem; the main concern is the high price. The price in international market has gone up and supply in our local market was hampered due to natural disasters."
He, however, said the price will definitely come down after the Boro harvest in one and half months.
The local market had suffered the strongest blow in last year's back-to-back flooding and cyclone Sidr, he added.
As of yesterday, the import of rice during the current fiscal year stands at 29.95 lakh metric tons, the adviser told The Daily Star adding that it will reach 40 lakh metric tons by June.
About the country of import, Shawkat Ali said that most of the rice will come from India and Myanmar and the private sector importers are also trying to import from Thailand and Pakistan.
Talking about arrival of the first consignment of rice from India, Shawkat Ali said that 8,000 metric tons of rice will be transported daily to Darshana in Chuadanga by train.
The West Bengal Essential Commodity Supply Corporation is delivering the rice purchased by the government at $399 per metric ton.
Addressing a press briefing earlier at his ministry yesterday, adviser Shawkat Ali admitted that the rice market is not at a tolerable stage and stressed the need of increasing supply to the markets.
The adviser also told the journalists that 16,000 metric tons of rice from World Food Programme was unloaded in Chittagong port yesterday.
Talking on government role in monitoring rice prices in local markets, he said, "We're selling rice at Tk 25 a kg through 2319 outlets under the OMS (open market sale) programme and distributing free rice through 40 lakh VGF (vulnerable group feeding) programmes to help the poor. We're also selling rice at a low price at around 190 BDR (Bangladesh Rifles) shops."
Asked about government steps to help the middle class and lower middle class, he observed that the government has to set priority adding that the lower middle class are also visiting the BDR shops.
Asked whether they have any plan about the fixed income group, the adviser said that they are trying to find a solution.
Talking on the LCs opened on private sectors before the Indian authorities raised the price to $560 per metric ton, he said, "Such LCs are protected. The Indian customs officials are contacting Delhi and it'll be settled within one or two days."

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