DHAKA: The price of rice at importer level came down by Tk 2.50 per kg as the latest duty cut became effective yesterday following issuance of a circular by the National Board of Revenue (NBR). According to the circular, the rice import tariff was lowered from 10 percent to two percent. The move came a day after a cabinet committee meeting decided to cut the import duty to keep the rice price stable. Chitta Majumder, a rice importer, said their cost of rice import from India would come down to Tk 35.50 to Tk 36 from Tk 38 to Tk 38.50 a kg under the new tax rate. Prices of coarse rice would come down below Tk 40 per kg within two to three days due to a cascading effect of the tax cut, Chitta, proprietor of Majumder Traders, told The Daily Star yesterday. The retail prices of coarse rice shot up to Tk 47-48 in June-July, a 47 percent increase from last year’s price band of Tk 30-34. However, the prices later stabilised at Tk 43-45, according to data of Trading Corporation of Bangladesh. The importer said they had been waiting for over a week on the announcement of the tax cut. He hoped rice prices would ease as about 20,000 to 25,000 tonnes of rice would be imported in the next four or five days.
Flashfloods in six northeastern haor districts and fungal attacks (rice blast) in 19 others during the Boro season damaged about 20 lakh tonnes of rice crop earlier this year. At least 20 northern districts and some others elsewhere in the country have been hit by flood in the last few days. Against this backdrop, the cabinet committee meeting at the secretariat on Wednesday approved the government’s decision to import 20 lakh tonnes of food grains — 15 lakh tonnes of rice and 5 lakh tonnes of wheat — in the current fiscal year. The revised import target is 11 lakh tonnes more than the government’s earlier projected food import volume of 9 lakh tonnes. Yesterday’s duty cut was the second this year after the government in June had slashed the rice import duty to 10 percent from 28 percent.
Under the new duty structure, importers will have to pay only Tk 1.56 crore instead of Tk 7.82 crore in tariff for releasing 24,000 tonnes of rice stuck at several ports. Chitta Majumder said 15 lakh tonnes of rice was being imported by the government. Local importers could bring the rice into Darshana, Khulna at quickest time, he told this correspondent. The government has so far floated international tenders seeking to buy 3.5 tonnes of rice. Local importers, said Chitta, had supplied rice to the government in 2009 promptly. If the government floated local tenders, the importers would have been able to import rice from India and reach it to government granaries, he added.