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B'desh rice traders want relaxation in import rule PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 06 January 2008

Bangladeshi farmers unload rice stalks
Bangladeshi farmers unload rice stalks
CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh (Reuters) - Bangladesh rice traders said on Sunday they want a relaxation in government procurement rules to allow more imports to meet domestic demand.

A serious shortage has doubled the domestic price of rice to 40 taka ($0.60) a kg since January last year. Many other commodities have seen similar increases.

"We will request the government to amend the procurement rules authorising officials to buy commodities on the spot from overseas markets," Saifuzzaman Javed, president of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Reuters on Sunday.

He said existing rule requiring tenders were "cumbersome and often delay meeting an emergency demand in the country."
He said rice supplies had fallen over the past months because of the complex policies.

Food ministry officials said they would soon announce tenders for upto 600,000 tonnes of rice under a government plan to import one million tonnes. They said a contract for 400,000 tonnes had been awarded and rice had started to reach Bangladesh ports.

Bangladeshi traders started importing more rice when prices spiked due to natural calamities last year.
Thousands of poor people queued up on Sunday at dozens of stalls set up by the authorities to sell rice at a subsidised rate of 22 taka ($0.32) per kg, to ease discontent.

The government currently has a stock of around 600,000 tonnes of food grains, against the minimum stock of 1 million tonnes it needs to meet emergencies, officials said.

Officials said Bangladesh needed nearly 2 million tonnes of food grains, including rice, by the end of June, following a devastating cyclone in November that killed over 3,300 people and left millions homeless.

The cyclone and two spells of flooding in July-September destroyed 1.8 million tonnes of rice in the fields, according to official estimates.

Source: Reuters

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