Sunday, October 20, 2019

Rice millers blame supply disruptions during elections for ‘temporary’ price hike

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2019-01-11 02:36:53 BdST

Mill owners insist there is no instability in the rice market but prices have soared ‘temporarily’ due to disruptions in supplies caused by the Dec 30 elections.

Amid disconent over the price hike after the polls, the new government’s Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder and Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi held a meeting in Dhaka on Thursday with the rice mill owners and traders from across Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mill Owners' Association General Secretary Layek Ali told the meeting that neither rice price nor paddy price had increased.

“There might have been a gap during the vote as everyone was busy in the elections. Maybe paddy import and rice production dropped for a day or two at the time,” he said.

Nidhar Chandra Saha, president of Naogaon Paddy-Rice Warehouse Owners’ Association, also said no situation that could cause rice price hike had developed.

“There were some disruptions in some areas due to the elections,” he said and added these might have led to price hike in some areas.

There was no price hike in key rice-producing areas such as Dinajpur, Naogaon, Bogura, Sherpur, Ashuganj and Kushtia, Layek Ali claimed.

“We must find out where the rice prices have increased,” he said and asked those who claimed prices had increased to visit the rice hubs.

Layek, owner of Madina Rice Mills and also president of Joypurhat Rice Mill Owners’ Association, alleged the rice price hike report was part of a ‘misleading propaganda’.

The traders made the comments on being asked by Food Minister Sadhan, who is also a rice trader, as to why retail rice prices increased by up to Tk 3 per kg despite huge production of Aman and Boro crops.

Layek claimed coarse rice was not selling at more than Tk 35 per kg anywhere in Bangladesh as the government was buying Amon crops at Tk 36 per kg with a target to purchase 600,000 tonnes from Dec 1 last year to Feb 28 this year.

The rice miller, however, admitted that prices of fine varieties of rice do increase sometimes.

Nidhar Saha said prices of fine varieties of rice rose as it is not the season of these varieties.