Bangladesh to crack down on rice hoarders as prices soar despite local production

An increase in the prices of rice amid the Boro paddy harvest season has prompted the government to initiate a crackdown on unauthorised hoarding by traders – drives similar to the ones launched during a recent supply crunch of cooking oil.

Published : 30 May 2022, 03:11 PM
Updated : 30 May 2022, 03:11 PM

Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam revealed the decision to take quick action against the traders who are stockpiling rice with the intent of manipulate the market, after a meeting of the council of ministers on Monday.

The meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, discussed the market mechanism of commodities, especially rice and oil, Anwarul said, adding that some findings by detectives on the rice price hike and some suggestions were placed in the meeting.

“It has been said in the memorandum of association what we can do. It appears that some people have started trading in rice by breaking that memorandum. For example, a large company with tens of billions of taka has entered the market and stockpiled rice and paddy. How long will it be able to keep the products?”

Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Food Secretary Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum, Tapan Kanti Ghosh and Agriculture Secretary Saydul Islam were asked to act immediately after surveying the market.

Anwarul said the companies that are violating their memorandum of association and article of association may be warned if necessary. “You can’t trade in one product with the memorandum of association for another product in the developed countries. Maybe they [Bangladeshi companies] don’t know that.”

Rice prices fall when the products of the Boro season arrive in the market, but this time the staple is getting costlier.

Wholesalers say the mills have raised prices. The mill owners have blamed a rise in the prices of paddy this season for the spike in rice prices.

Speaking at a meeting on the collection of paddy during the Boro season on Sunday, Food Minister Sadhan brushed aside the mill owners’ claim, alleging that they are engaged in an “evil competition”.

He also said mill owners are hoarding newly produced paddy of this Boro season and releasing rice from old stocks.

At another meeting on market monitoring on Monday, the minister said the government will encourage rice imports by lowering taxes if it is necessary to ease the consumers’ suffering.

“A number of corporate houses are engaged in purchasing paddy and rice. It must be checked whether they are creating an artificial crisis.”

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher