The cabinet committee on government purchase yesterday approved a food department proposal to purchase the 50,000 tonnes of non-basmati rice from Bagadiya Brothers Private for Tk 169.55 crore.
Each tonnes would cost $ 399.90, informed Shamsul Arefin, additional secretary to the cabinet division.
As the country’s food stock was at an alarmingly low level earlier this year, the government took several steps to both import rice from different countries and make purchases locally.
The food stock came down to 4.62 lakh tonnes in April.
That month, the government decided to increase stocks through the purchase of 6.5 lakh tonnes of paddy and 11.5 lakh tonnes of rice from the local market while Boro harvests were ongoing.
The collection of Boro paddy and rice started on April 28 and May 7 respectively.
According to the food ministry, a total of 2.21 lakh tonnes of Boro paddy, 4.83 lakh tonnes of parboiled Boro rice and 38,000 tonnes of atap Boro rice have been purchased from the local market till this Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the government imported a total of 5.30 lakh tonnes of rice.
This took the country’s food stocks to 13.23 lakh tonnes, comprising 10.18 lakh tonnes of rice and 3.05 lakh tonnes of wheat.
The food ministry considers stocks of around 10 lakh tonnes of rice as safe.
The cabinet committee on economic affairs yesterday gave a policy approval for signing a Master Sale and Purchase Agreement (MSPA) with four more companies for the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The companies are ITOCHU Corporation, Japan; Gunvor Singapore Pte, Singapore; Shell International Trading Middle East, Dubai; and Total Gas & Power, UK.
The government previously gave approval for signing such deals with 14 companies, said the additional secretary to the cabinet division.
The committee also approved a policy increasing to three years the deadline for the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) to purchase different essential goods either locally or through import.
The goods include onion, garlic, lentil, chick pea, sugar, salt, soya bean oil, palm oil, and spices like ginger, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, cumin and bay leaf.
FINANCE MINISTER HOPEFUL ABOUT ECONOMY
Following the meetings, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal at a virtual press briefing gave messages of hope about the country’s economy.
Stating that there are numerous challenges, he said, “I won’t say that there is no challenge. But we always take challenge as opportunity.”
Sharing statistics to show how the economy was recovering amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, he said though revenue earning was not good at the beginning of the fiscal year, it increased by 17 per cent in the past 11 months.
In the same period, exports increased by 14 per cent. “If you look at the reserve, it almost reached $46 billion,” he said.
He hoped of doing better in the upcoming days with all the people of the country.
In reply to a query about budget deficit, he said the United Nations has called on all countries to pursue a policy of expansion, not contraction, in order to reduce the impact of the pandemic.
“But our prime minister much earlier emphasised on taking an expansionary monetary and fiscal policy,” he said.
The country’s budget deficit next fiscal would reach 6.2 per cent against 18 per cent in the USA, 13.07 per cent in India, 11.88 per cent in China and 6.2 per cent in Vietnam.
Now, all the countries are trying to move forward by increasing deficits, he said.
In reply to a question about whether the scope of whitening black money will be offered in the new fiscal year, the minister said it would be made public during the passing of the money bill in parliament on June 29.
The minister declined commenting on a report of a probe body formed to investigate the hacking of Bangladesh Bank reserve, explaining that investigations in cases in connection with the incident were ongoing.
In response to another question, the minister said if the Serum Institute of India finally failed to provide Covid-19 vaccines, Bangladesh would “Obviously” get its money back.
The health ministry is monitoring the issue. “However, India also needs vaccines. We will take decision considering all the reasons,” he said.