Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi urged on Thursday the millers and traders to keep the prices of rice stable in the market.
"I request you (rice millers and traders) to keep the prices of rice at a tolerable level," he said while speaking at a view-exchange meeting held at the conference room of Directorate General of Food in the capital.
The meeting was called following a recent hike of rice prices in the market.
Prices of different varieties of rice went up by Tk 3.0 to Tk 4.0 per kilogramme in the retail and wholesale markets in last few days.
Swarna, a coarse variety of rice widely consumed by low income people, sold between Tk 40 and Tk 44 a kg on Thursday. The price ranged between Tk 38 and Tk 40 a week ago.
Medium-quality Brridhan-28 and 29 sold between Tk 50 and Tk 55 while fine variety minicate and jeerashail at Tk 55 to Tk 66 and najirshail at Tk 62 to Tk 70 depending on their quality.
Prices of per sack (50-kg) rice soared by Tk 80 and Tk 100 in last few days at the mill gates in Kushtia, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Nilphamari, Pabna and Jashore.
Highlighting the consumers' interests, the minister said, "You (millers and traders) should do your business with utmost honesty so that consumers do not suffer due to artificial price hike of rice."
Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder expressed his determination to keep the prices of rice at a tolerable level.
He also sought cooperation from all concerned including the media to contain artificial price hike of rice.
The food minister suggested starting to procure paddy and rice on time so that the farmers could get fair price of their produce.
In the meeting, the millers assured the government that they are ready to sell rice to it for ensuring a buffer stock of the staple.
They claimed that they incur financial loss as a significant quantity of imported rice remains unsold.
And they also suggested that the government import rice keeping in mind the demand for rice and its stock situation.
Nirod Boran Saha, a rice miller from Naogaon, said the mill gate price of minicate (fine variety) was Tk 47.80 per kg on the day.
He suggested the price should be highest Tk 55 at the retail level including all costs.
He, however, said the price of minicate rice may fall after the arrival of new harvest in April and May.
The country has over 1.05 million tonnes of food-grain at public silos.
General Secretary of Bangladesh Auto Major Husking Mill Owners Association KM Layek Ali, President of Bangladesh Auto Rice Millers Association AKM Khorshed Alam Khan and General Secretary of Badamtali Rice Traders Md Nizamuddin were, among others, present at the meeting.
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