The government is set to ban rice import aiming to protect the farmers following a drastic fall in paddy prices at growers' level, sources said.
To this effect, a proposal has already got the prime minister's consent, according to them.
Now the ministries concerned are set to issue an order in this regard shortly, they mentioned.
On May 29, the cabinet division asked the commerce and food ministries to take next course of actions in this regard.
When contacted, a commerce ministry official said, "We have received a letter from the cabinet division. We are now working on the issue."
Deputy Secretary of the cabinet division Md Shafat Mahbub Chowdhury who signed the letter said, "The cabinet division has asked the food and commerce ministries to take necessary steps to end rice import as per the prime minister's approval. The ministries are yet to give feedback in this connection."
In its fortnightly secret report, the cabinet division put forward the proposal to the prime minister against the backdrop of a sharp fall in paddy prices. The PM gave approval to the proposal, a cabinet division source said.
When contacted, Food Secretary Shahabuddin Ahmed said the commerce ministry has the authority to handle export/import issues. The food ministry procures food as per the government's requirements, he added.
From now on, rice importers will need to pay 55 per cent duty as the government has increased regulatory duty (RD) on rice import to 25 per cent from existing 3.0 per cent.
The decision was taken to discourage rice import against a backdrop of a significant fall in the prices of paddy in the local market.
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) on May 22, 2019 issued a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO), imposing fresh RD on rice import.
With a fresh hike, rice importers will require paying 55 per cent duty including 25 per cent customs duty, 25 per cent regulatory duty and 5.0 per cent advance income tax (AIT) on import of rice.
According to the food ministry, 0.2 million tonnes of rice were imported by the private sector and the government as of April 16 in the current fiscal year (FY'19) which was 3.3 million tonnes in the corresponding period of last fiscal year.
According to Department of Agricultural Marketing, paddy was selling at Tk 500-Tk 650 a maund (about 38 kilograms) based on their varieties across the country against the production cost of Tk 800-Tk 1,000 during this Boro harvesting season.
Boro farmers were counting 40-60 per cent of loss, according to Bangladesh Krishok Samity and Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation.
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