Bangladesh government to import 900 thousand tonnes of rice to sell at subsidised prices

The government will also buy wheat, edible oil and lentils for resale at reduced prices.


Workers on a truck are seen measuring out portions of rice for sale at subsidised rates among low-income groups. The government recently allowed two public agencies to import 900,000 tonnes of rice in a bid to build up the country’s food stocks and provide a cushion against ongoing inflationary pressure. Photo: Star

September 15, 2022

DHAKA – Two public agencies — the Directorate General of Food and Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) — yesterday got the nod to buy rice, soybean oil and lentils from the domestic and international markets for sale at subsidised rates among low-income groups.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave the nod to the DG of Food to buy 400,000 tonnes of rice under state-to-state contracts to help the food office build up an adequate stock of the grain and provide a cushion to low-income groups from the ongoing inflationary pressure.

The food office also got clearance to float an international tender for purchasing rice on an emergency basis, under which prospective bidders will have 15 days to submit their proposals instead of the usual 42.

As such, the decision will allow the DG of Food to buy 500,000 tonnes of rice from the international market in about 30 days less than the 90-day period required as per the rule, officials said.

The move comes after the food ministry signed a contract to buy more than 500,000 tonnes of rice from Vietnam, India and Myanmar under state-to-state contracts.

The ministry also inked a deal with Russia to buy 500,000 tonnes of wheat apart from a separate 100,000-tonne order for the grain through an international tender. The ministry aims to build up food stocks for distribution in the coming months under various social safety net schemes, namely the Food Friendly Programme and open market sales.

Food stocks at public warehouses stood at 18.6 lakh tonnes as of September 13 this year.

Meanwhile, the TCB got approval from the cabinet committee on purchase to buy 15,000 tonnes of lentil and 60 lakh litres of soybean oil for distribution among one crore families that are registered family car holders.

The state corporation launched sales of soybean oil, lentil, onion and sugar at subsidised rates among cardholders earlier this week.

Md Abdul Barik, additional secretary of the Cabinet Division, said three firms — Blue Sky Enterprise Dhaka, Masud & Brothers Chattogram and Ruby Food Products Ltd Chattogram — would supply the lentil at Tk 110 per kilogramme.

The procurement will cost Tk 165 crore, as per a document of the committee.

Besides, the TCB got approval from the economic affairs committee to buy 30 lakh litres of soybean oil from Bashundhara Multi Food Products Ltd at Tk 54.9 crore under the direct procurement method.

The state corporation also got clearance to buy another 30 lakh litres of bottled soybean oil from Meghna Edible Oil Refinery Ltd at Tk 182.95 per litre under open tender. The total cost of the purchase will be Tk 54.88 crore, according to a brief.

The purchase will enable the TCB to distribute edible oil among family card holders in September and the subsequent months, said Brigadier General Md Ariful Hassan, chairman of the TCB.

The state corporation, which sells certain essential commodities at below market rates to support poor families, needs 30,000 tonnes of lentil, 2 crore litres of soybean oil and 10,000 tonnes of sugar each month for the roughly one crore family card holders.

The TCB is also in process of buying edible oil and lentil through international tenders, he added.

The TCB’s sales of essential commodities grew to 2.39 lakh tonnes in fiscal 2021-22, about 12 times higher than the 20,500 tonnes it sold in fiscal 2016-17.

The corporation’s overall sales target is estimated at 2.75 lakh tonnes, as per data from the finance ministry.

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