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Govt plans to import wheat from 5 countries, says Tipu

Published : Tuesday, 17 May, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Count : 489

Urging the country's people to be more economical in the upcoming days claiming it might be hard if the War of Russia-Ukraine lingers, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi on Monday said, "It's true that the price of essential commodities increasing day by day. If the war lingers, the price may increase more as price of all import-based products increasing in the international markets due to the war."
"Usually, people expense less during the crisis period. Due to the war and price hike in the international markets and hike of transport costs, price of some products including edible oil, onion and atta is increasing. In this situation, we should be thriftier to face the hard days may come in the upcoming days," he said while addressing the 'BSRF Dialogue' held in the Media  
Centre at the Secretariat.
Bangladesh Secretariat Reporters' Forum (BSRF) organized the dialogue considering the government's initiatives to address the crisis and tackling commodities prices to lessen the sufferings of the people.
BSRF President Tapan Biswas presided over the dialogue while its General Secretary Masudul Hoque moderated. Senior BSRF members and journalists from different media outlets attended the event.
In response to a query about the government's steps to import wheat after India's banning wheat export, Tipu Munshi said the government is planning to source wheat from five other countries including Canada.
"India has announced a ban on wheat exports amid the devaluation of taka against the US dollar. We have already engaged in talks with Canada among other countries that we are trying to reach out for wheat import," he said, expressing hope that India will reconsider their decision on wheat export.
Earlier on Friday last, India - the world's second-biggest wheat producer - banned wheat exports to curb rising domestic prices and address the needs of neighbouring and vulnerable countries.
Bangladesh is the top destination of its wheat exports. India exported 11,57,399 tonnes of wheat worth $299.4 million to Bangladesh in 2020-21 constituting 55.4 per cent in terms of total volume of India's total wheat exports.
Regarding the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) open market sale (OMS) programme, Tipu Munshi said that the government was supposed to start selling edible oil, lentil, sugar and gram from Monday. But, it was suspended later as they haven't yet finalized the lists of beneficiaries in three districts including Dhaka.
"Hope, the lists of beneficiaries would be finalized within this month. The government is going to launch the programme targeting one crore people. After finalizing the lists, it will begin in next month as planned," the minister said, adding that only 15 lakh people will get the benefit of OMS Truck Sale. The rests of the one crore people will get through the card the government introduced from the programme.
Regarding the export target, Munshi noted the export target of this year is US$60 billion, while for 2024; it has been set at US$80 billion.
As the demand for apparel products increases, the minister said that there is a plan to raise the number of country's ready-made garments industry labours to five million from the four million current RMG workforces.
Along with the initiative, the volume of five more products which are being exported bellow the figure of one billion would exceed the limit of billion this year.
Whether the government controls the market or the traders? In response to such a question, he said the government, instead of controlling the market of daily commodities, should work to keep it stable.
"We are business friendly. We fix the price in line with the global market and ensure supply of products in the market. If there is a fixed price in the market, the market will remain stable," said the minister.
He said when the situation in the global market is stable the domestic market also stays stable. There is a minor issue with the prices of edible oil, sugar and lentils.

"We have to import 90 per cent of the edible oil. The price increases in our country in line with the global market," he said, adding that the Russia-Ukraine war has had a huge impact on the food products. So, we need to be accommodative as there is some crisis ahead.
Regarding onions, he said the price of onion is a little higher now, yet within reach of the consumers.
He said the Agriculture Ministry has stopped the Import Permission (IP) of onions. "We are ensuring that the farmers get fare price, at least Tk 25 per kg, as the production cost is around Tk 18-20 per kg. Besides, we are focusing on the fact that consumers can buy onions at Tk 45 per kg, including transportation and other expenses."
He also reiterated, "Trusting traders was a mistake. We made a mistake by not fixing the edible oil price for the last two months in a row. If we had, they would not have taken the opportunity."

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