The government would allow the traders who had imported rice earlier as per its directives to bring in more rice to meet its import target, according to the food ministry.
A high official of the ministry told the FE that they had asked the Directorate General of Food (DGoF) to take necessary steps in this regard.
The importers were asked to apply to the government by February 25 with submission of their previous LC opening documents showing that they had imported rice recently following the price volatility in the market, he added.
Earlier, the government had allowed around 320 private-sector traders to import rice setting the condition that they must open LCs by February 15.
The traders were allowed to import over 1.0 million tonnes of rice.
The government gave the approval for rice import due to non-fulfilment of its internal procurement target of rice and paddy (Aman), increased prices of different varieties of rice and fast-depleting food-grain stock at government silos.
Following an upward trend in rice prices, the government took initiatives to import rice by reducing import duties. It reduced import duty to 25 per cent from 62.50 per cent aiming to keep the rice prices stable in the market.
Despite import of rice by the private sector, the prices of different varieties of rice are still high in the market.
The coarse variety of rice was sold between Tk 50 and Tk 53 per kilogram depending on its quality while fine varieties of rice at Tk 58-Tk 65 per kg in the city's retail market on Saturday.
Earlier, an inter-ministerial meeting organised by Food Planning and Monitoring Unit (FPMU) on February 11 warned the traders to cancel approval "if any of them fails to open LCs within the deadline" (February 15, 2021).
The meeting had reviewed the stock of rice and its price, situation on Aman paddy and rice procurement drive, the volume of rice import and food distribution situation.
The original deadline for opening LCs was January 31 which was extended until February 15.
The food ministry official further said they had cancelled approval of some traders who could not open LCs by February 15.
He, however, expressed the hope that despite cancellation of approval, import of rice would continue smoothly.