A limited amount of rice is being imported through Hili land port of Dinajpur due to the dollar price hike and rice price increase by Indian traders. Due to this, the price of rice in Hili increased by Tk5-7 per kg within a week.
On the other hand, despite the increase in import volume, the price of onion in the wholesale market at Hili land port in Dinajpur has increased by Tk3 per kg under the pretext of rising dollar price.
Most of the rice shops in Hili were seen to have sufficient stock of rice but the price remain high. Miniket rice which was sold at Tk55-56 per kg has now increased to Tk62-64, Attash rice which was Tk50-52 has now increased to Tk56-57 and Swarna rice was sold at Tk47-48 instead of Tk45 Tuesday (9 August).
Imported Indian rice is being sold at Tk5-7 more per kg.
Aslam Hossain, a van driver who came to buy rice in Hili market, said, "I earn TK200-250 a day. But if I buy rice at the current price, then I am left with nothing to buy other items with."
He urged the government to intervene and start selling rice at a lower price.
Another buyer, Ibrahim Sheikh said, "When I came to buy rice in the market, I saw that the price had gone up due to which I had to go back without buying because I could not afford it."
"Hearing about the arrival of rice from India, I thought that the price of rice will decrease and people like us will benefit. But on the contrary, the price of rice is higher."
To keep the supply of rice normal in the country and to control the price of rice, the government has reduced the import duty of rice from 62.5% to 25% and allowed the import of rice at the private level.
However, importers complained that the Indian traders are asking higher prices for rice consignments which is the reason behind the price hike at the local level.
Harun ur Rashid, President of Hili Land Port Import Export Group, said that Indian traders have increased the price of rice due to the permission to import rice into the country and the reduction of duty.
"After which, adding up import cost of rice imported from India and Tk10-12 in duty, selling price is becoming higher than the price of rice in the country's market," he told The Business Standard.
Harun further said at present the import of rice through the port is very limited as not everyone is importing rice.
However, if the current 25% duty on rice import is nullified, then only rice can be imported from India, which will increase the supply of rice in the country's market and reduce the price, He added.
Hili Land Port Public Relations Officer Sohrab Hossain said that in the past 60-70 trucks of rice were imported through the port whereas now only 3-5 trucks of rice are being imported.
"If the import of rice through the port increases, the revenue collection of the government will increase as well as the daily income of the port will increase and the workers will also get additional income," he told TBS.
Onion prices soar despite better supply
A day ago, Indore onion was sold at Tk21-22 per kg at the port, but now it is being sold at Tk24-25. Meanwhile, the retail price of domestic onion has increased by Tk9 and the price of Indian onion has increased by Tk5 per kg in Hili Bazar.
Shakil Khan, an onion seller at Hilli Bazar, said, "We usually collect local onions from Pabna and sell them in the market. But for the last two days, the supply of onion has reduced in warehouses, and the price of onion is high there. Due to this we have to buy at a higher price and thus have to sell at a higher price."
Besides, the price of Indian onion imported at Hili land port is higher due to the increase in dollar price, he added.
Onion trader Shahidul Islam said that the import of onion from India through the port has continued since 5 July.
"However, due to the increase in the price of the dollar, onion is being imported at a higher price due to which the price of onion is increasing in the country's market," he told The Business Standard.