Watchdog Advocates Immediate Food Import
Monday, 31 May 2010

A parliamentary watchdog has recommended immediate import of food grains in view of the poor response to the government's internal food procurement drive.

The parliamentary standing committee on food and disaster management ministry, at its meeting Monday, observed that the ongoing food procurement drive may not succeed due to higher prices of rice and paddy in the market than the government-fixed rates.

The parliamentary panel feared that unless adequate supply was not guaranteed, there could be a rise in food prices, hitting the poor and the vulnerable most.

Food ministry officials told the watchdog meeting that it had procured 3.5 lakh MT of rice against the target of over 12 lakh MT during the current boro season.

"We have recommended immediate import of rice and wheat both in the public and private sector to make available adequate supply of grains," Iqbalur Rahim, a committee member, told bdnews24.com after the meeting at parliament building.

"Because, some unscrupulous traders will try to increase prices of grains if the government lacks adequate stock of rice and wheat to meet urgent needs," he said.

The Awami League MP said the food minister Abdur Razzaq also agreed with the committee and assured of taking necessary remedial measures.

"At present, 1kg of coarse rice sells at Tk 28 while the government buys at Tk 25. In this situation, what will happen next if the government had no stock of food for emergency requirements," said Rahim, a former student leader.

On May 1, the food ministry started food procurement drive from internal market at the rate of Tk 25 per kilogram. The drive will continue up to June 30 this year.

"Most of the committee members including the chairman expressed frustration at the poor procurement performance by the food ministry," a committee member told bdnews24.com, preferring anonymity.

"The government has already decided to release the food grains allocated for the test relief and food-for-work programmes.

"The move is certain to have a positive impact on the market," said Rahim.

Source:
bdnews24.com

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