Last year, flood affected rice production mainly in Haor areas during the main rice-producing season in Bangladesh. The prices of rice had increased by 50 to 70 per cent in retail markets, forcing the government to withdraw duty on rice import. In current season, production of rice was satisfactory implying that the prices of different varieties of the staple food will be at reasonable level. Government imposed previous customs duty on import of rice so that rice, produced by local farmers, is not affected by availability of cheaper, foreign rice. In reality, the price of rice is still rather high. It is alleged that some unscrupulous rice millers are hoarding rice and in the process the price is increasing. The large rice millers, who are enjoying short-term huge loans from agriculture and commercial banks, are allegedly using the money to hoard rice thus constricting its supply in markets. A similar incident had happened 10 years back. Back then, Bangladesh Bank (BB) had instructed all banks to realise all loans disbursed to rice millers within one month. Magically the prices of rice had come down to reasonable levels within a week or so. The BB can consider similar steps this time around.
Md Ashraf Hossain
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