Thursday, February 21, 2019 | ePaper

Prices go up before new duties become payable: The govt remain indifferent

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RICE prices have gone up as millers and traders hiked prices banking on the government decision to raise import duty on the cereal to 28 percent from 2 percent, say market insiders. Over the last ten days, prices of all types of rice shot up by Tk 3 a kilogram at retail markets in the capital.
Coarse rice, mostly consumed by low-income people, was sold for up to Tk 45 a kg yesterday, up from Tk 42 a week ago, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data. The increase in rice prices comes at a time when farmers had a good harvest in Aus, Aman and Boro seasons in the last fiscal year. Besides, 41.12 lakh tonnes of rice were imported during the period, the highest in the last 30 years.
The domestic market registers an increase in rice prices at a time when prices of the grain are   falling on the international market. For example, prices of Indian parboiled rice (5 percent broken) fell 2.5 percent to $355 a tonne in the third week of last month. Prices of the same category rice in Thailand and Pakistan also declined, according to the Food Ministry's fortnightly Food Grain Outlook.
As usual, a section of retailers are trying to increase prices capitalising on the duty hike. But they are unlikely to succeed. For prices to go up sharply there has to be a much sharper rise in demand and a contraction or a reduction is supply, which is unlikely to be the case.
But being our staple food its price hike causes concern and hardship, to the low and middle income groups of people. The point remains as to why whenever the government increases the import duties on any item increase the price before increased duty becomes pay under new shipment.
The prices rise in a mysterious conjunction. The government has yet been unable to take action against those who so blatantly earn additional profit forcing the apoplectic to more. The government cannot ineffective in being helpful to the people against profiteers.

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