Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) President Jasim Uddin has heavily criticised traders for the price hike of rice during the harvest season and voiced his support for the government's anti-stockpile campaign.
Responding to rice traders' complaints against the government's campaign during a meeting at the FBCCI office on Thursday, the trade body chief said, "You have raised the price of rice during the paddy harvest season and you cannot just expect the government to do nothing about it. You have increased the price by Tk10-15 per kg."
He added that millions of taka have been spent to import paddy threshing machines, which is supposed to lower the price.
"Then how is it that prices go up," he asked.
"The mill owners have increased the price of rice," Jasim Uddin said, responding to a reporter's question after the meeting with traders.
"When the raid against rice traders started, the price went down. It is clear, they have done something. Otherwise how did they manage to lower the price," he further asked.
Jasim Uddin said the traders are saying rice prices have gone up due to loss of paddy in the haor area and it is not believable.
"Only 6% of the total rice produced in the country comes from the haor area, where a maximum 30% of paddy has been damaged. This is not supposed to push the price up," he elaborated.
He also said, we produce 60% rice during the current Boro season.
"There is no reason for rice prices to go up at this time. It just cannot be," added the FBCCI chief.
Since last Wednesday, various government agencies, including the Ministry of Food, have started cracking down on traders who have illegally stockpiled rice across the country. On the first day, the operation was carried out at hundreds of companies across eight divisions. Several companies were also fined during the campaign.
The food minister warned at another function on Thursday that big corporates should not be involved in the rice business without approval and having their own mills.
Shahidur Rahman Patwari, Vice President, Bangladesh Auto, Major and Husking Rice Mill Owners Association, said he does not understand how the price of miniket is Tk75 per kg, production cost of which is Tk61.
Business leaders said that there are enough salt, spices and onions ahead of Eid-ul-Azha and assured that prices will not go up.