Dhaka – The government has increased the duty on rice import apparently to save the local farmers who protested for more than a week against the low grain price in Bangladesh.
National Board of Revenue (NBR) on Wednesday increased the regulatory duty for rice import to 25 per cent from 3 percent alongside the existing tariff of 25 per cent. Additionally the importers have to pay an advance income tax of 5 per cent, according to an official circular issued Wednesday.
The total duty on rice import is now 55 per cent which was 28 per cent earlier.
The decision for duty-hike came into force to discourage import and save the marginal farmers who are forced to sell rice less than that of the production cost, said Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, head of the NBR.
He said the country imported 303,000 tons of rice in the first 10 months of current financial year (2018-19) that affected the overall domestic supply.
Farmers across the country have been protesting against the drastic slide in the rice price because of good harvest and higher stocks of the grain in both public and private sectors.
They said that the existing market price of the rice grain does not cover the production cost and demanded that the government must fix a fair price. They also demanded that the government procures the grains to save the farmers.
Bangladesh secured a production of 36.2 million tons of rice in the previous 2017-18 financial year with 1.3 million tons of surplus.
The production is expected to hit a new high during the current financial year, said an official at the Agriculture Extension Department ministry. He said the estimated production may be 38 million tons.
A farmer in central Tangail district set fire on his paddy field while many others in the northern Rangpur district threw the grains on highway protesting what they said the lower price.
Discouraging import, Bangladesh now plans to export the surplus rice after feeding its more than 160 million people.
“We are currently holding discussions over the prospect of rice export,” Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzak told reporters earlier this month. He said Bangladesh on an average produces nearly 2 million tons of surplus rice.