Government’s two highest approving bodies — Cabinet Economic Affairs Committee and the Cabinet Purchase Committee — have approved a Food Ministry’s proposal to import 1 lakh tonnes of white rice from Myanmar.
Officials said the proposal was first placed in the Cabinet Economic Affairs Committee’s meeting. After the committee’s approval, it received the nod of the Cabinet Purchase Committee as well.
In the absence of Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed presided over the meetings of both the committees held consecutively at the Cabinet Division on Wednesday. Senior ministers, who are members of the two committees, were present at the meetings.
The Food Ministry placed the rice import proposal as part of its five-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Myanmar.
Additional Secretary to the Cabinet Division Mustafizur Rahman who briefed reporters about the outcomes of the two meetings, said the Food Ministry is directly importing the rice at a price of $442 per tonne under a government-to-government deal. The import will cost in total Tk 366.86 crore.
However, official documents show the same rice is selling at $435 per tonne in India, $440 in Vietnam and $405 in Pakistan.
Bangladesh signed the MoU with Myanmar during Food Minister Qamrul Islam’s visit to Naypyidaw on September 7 last.
Under the deal, Bangladesh can annually import maximum 300,000 tonnes of rice from Myanmar under the government-to-government arrangement.
The document also reveals that the country’s present stock of rice is 358,000 tonnes and that of wheat 107,000 tonnes.
It mentioned that as follow-up of Food Minister’s Myanmar visit, an 11-member delegation of Myanmar came to Bangladesh on September 17 and held a meeting with a high-level committee, which was formed comprising representatives of different ministries.
Finally, the Myanmar delegation signed an `Agreed Minutes of the Meeting` and sent a letter confirming the proposed export of 100,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh.
Another proposal of the Food Ministry to import 50,000 tonnes non-bashmoti rice also received the approval of the Cabinet Purchase Committee.