The government has reduced the import duty on non-boiled (atap) rice in an effort to increase the stocks of rice in the country.
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) on Wednesday issued a circular reducing the import duty on non-boiled rice from 25% to 10% alongside revoking all kinds of regulatory duties on its import.
In the wake of declining food stocks in the country, the revenue board earlier in January withdrew all kinds of regulatory duties on the import of coarse rice, non-aromatic and non-basmati boiled rice and broken rice besides cutting the import duty down to 10% from 25%.
The food ministry has decided to import 10 lakh tonnes of rice from abroad, both in public and private arrangement, as it could not attain even one-fourth of its rice procurement target set for the recent Aman season.
To encourage the private sector to import rice, the ministry in February requested the NBR to reduce tariffs on rice imports.
Meanwhile, a virtual meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, on Wednesday approved in principle a proposal to import 3.50 lakh tonnes of rice from India, Thailand and Vietnam in the government-to-government (G2G) model.
According to the proposal, the Directorate General of Food will procure 3 lakh tonnes of non-basmati cooked rice in two equal lots of 1.5 lakh tonnes from Civil Supplies Corporation Limited of the Punjab state of India and Sakannakhon National Farms Council of Thailand.
Additionally, the food directorate will purchase 50,000 tonnes of non-boiled rice from Vietnam's Southern Food Corporation.
After emerging from the meeting, Minister Kamal said, "We're trying to import rice from different sources so that we do not have any crisis, even if the attempt to import from one place fails."
The finance minister said it has not been decided yet at what price these rice will be bought.
"The food ministry will collect the rice prices through the ambassadors and high commissioners of Bangladesh in those countries. Then the price will be determined through virtual discussions. In order to avoid any crisis with rice, imports from three countries have been approved."
Considering the Covid-19 situation, another proposal to exclude drone shows and laser shows as part of the golden jubilee celebrations of the country's independence was approved at the meeting. However, other programmes to celebrate the golden jubilee in accordance with the rules of health will remain unchanged.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase on Wednesday approved two proposals of buying 67.2 lakh MMBTUs of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the spot market at Tk527.64 crore to meet the growing demand for fuel in the country. Vitol Asia Pte Ltd of Singapore and AOT Trading AG Switzerland will supply the fuel.
AHM Mustafa Kamal said, "We are buying LNG from the spot market through two international energy companies alongside purchasing the fuel through a long-term contract."