Bangladesh Bank has set a single-digit interest rate on import loans for nine essential commodities – with immediate effect – to check price hikes ahead of Ramadan.
In a circular issued on Monday, the central bank said the interest rate on import finance for edible oil, lentils, chickpeas, peas, onions, spices, dates, fruits and sugar will be nine percent from now on – instead of from April 1.
"However, traders have already started importing essential commodities for Ramadan. So, it is necessary to reduce the interest rate on import financing immediately to prevent price hikes during Ramadan – and also to keep prices moderate at that time," read the circular.
To open letters of credit for these nine items, banks have been told to keep the lowest margin so that importers are relieved of equity burden.
On February 24, Bangladesh Bank capped the interest rate of all existing and fresh loans – except credit cards – at nine percent.
On January 20, Bangladesh Bank directed all banks to hasten import procedures for 17 essential commodities – including the nine aforementioned items – to maintain a steady supply during Ramadan.
Previously, on January 8, the commerce ministry sent a letter to Bangladesh Bank, requesting it to instruct all banks to complete import-related tasks – without hassles and in the shortest possible time – to ensure the regular flow of essential commodities on the market.
In the last few months, the country has faced a serious onion crisis. The price of the key cooking ingredient remains very high even after the seasonal onion harvest.