The import of rice through Hili land port has hit a record height in the last five years.
Bangladesh imported 360,607 tonnes of rice from India through the port in 2017, whereas the import was about 18 times less – 20,675 tonnes – in 2016.
The amount of rice import through the port in 2017 is only about 90,000 tonnes less than the total amount of rice import over the four preceding years. Its import from 2013-2016 stood at 451,985 tonnes, said sources at Hili port authorities.
A lower output of the staple crop in the last Boro and Aman seasons prompted the government to lower the duty on rice import from 28 per cent to 2 per cent, which is widely being considered as the driving force behind such a huge leap in the import through the port.
Mamunur Rashid, a rice importer, said: “As the commerce ministry lowered the duty on rice import from 28 per cent to 2 per cent in June 20, 2016, huge quantities of rice started to pour in the country from India. But the Indian exporters also took advantage of the duty cut. They increased the export prices of different rice varieties by US$ 40-50.
“Under such circumstance, the government, in its bid to keep the market price of rice at a tolerable limit, lowered the duty again on August 16 last year and fixed it to 2 per cent from 10 per cent.”
Rajib Dutta, another rice importer, noted that around 120-130 truckloads of rice is being imported through the port nowadays as the demand in the local market has been high.
Rajib also noted that with the supply of newly harvested local paddy hitting the market, the Indian traders had lowered the export price a bit. “They have lowered export price and fixed it at $430-435 which is leading to the restoration of a bit of stability in the rice market of recent.”
At present the coarse rice (Guti Swarna) is being sold at Tk 38-39 per kilogram in the retail market around Hili, he added.