Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Govt on food alert

Piles up 38pc more subsidy as food grains get pricey in world market
The government will increase subsidy for food grains and agri inputs by 38 percent in the current fiscal year to check price hike of food grains.
Economists consider the additional subsidy necessary to cushion the impact of soaring prices of essentials on the country’s poor.
The subsidy is expected to go up to Tk 7,025 crore from the present outlay of Tk 5,088 crore, said officials in the food and agriculture ministries.
The raise comes hard on the heels of hikes in rice prices in recent weeks.
Talking to The Daily Star, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, however, allayed fears of rice prices going beyond the reach of consumers.
She said the government lowered prices of non-urea fertilisers several times to benefit farmers, and help them maintain a balance in the use of fertilisers and get a better output.
Matia said the government is constantly evolving ways and means to boost farm productivity to keep pace with population growth.
She said her ministry has plans to expand cultivation of Aus to an optimum level, so that the third important rice crop after Boro and Aman may provide the country with a much-needed increased output.
The government has moved to enforce anti-hoarding laws to discipline dishonest rice traders and millers, she said.
The government had initially allocated Tk 4,000 crore as subsidy for agri inputs in the current fiscal year. But a rise in fertiliser prices fuelled by oil price hike on the international market made it necessary to add Tk 1,800 crore to the amount.
“Financial support for farmers is a must to make farm inputs available at affordable prices, especially for a good Boro harvest in this season,” observed Agriculture Secretary Mustak Ahmed.
According to Bangladesh Fertiliser Association, international prices of urea now range from $375 to $400 a tonne, up from nearly $300 a tonne six months ago. Prices of triple super phosphate (TSP) and diammonium phosphate (DAP) also went up.
The requirement for food subsidy in the current fiscal year is likely to jump to Tk 1,225 crore from Tk 1,088 crore due to an increased rice allocation for open market sales (OMS), fair price and ration cards for defence and law enforcement agencies.
Subsidy for food grains might go up further as the government has to import grains at an increased price, said food ministry officials.
The Food Price Index, prepared by Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, reached a new high in the last week of January.
“We now purchase local rice for Tk 27 a kg. But we have to pay Tk 38 for one kg of rice on the international market. Rising rice prices on the global market will push up the average purchase cost,” said a senior food ministry official, seeking anonymity.
The government now sells more than one lakh tonne of rice a month, up from 80,000 tonnes a month ago, at OMS outlets for Tk 24 a kg, said Ahmad Hossain Khan, director general of the food directorate.
Officials claimed government intervention in the market helped check the upward trend in coarse rice prices. The decision to increase OMS price of rice by Tk 1 a kg from the beginning of this month was also postponed.
A hike in OMS price of rice might fuel the price expectations of traders and big farmers, leading to a further rise in prices, feared officials.
The need for increasing subsidy arose as the government had scaled up its food distribution target to 30 lakh tonnes from 27 lakh tonnes this fiscal year.
Distribution of food grains through OMS and fair price cards accounts for one-third of the amount with an increase in the allocation for the two to 10 lakh tonnes from 5.5 lakh tonnes.
The subsidy is aimed at keeping production cost low, and offering a cushion to the poor through various safety nets. It will also work as a tool for market intervention.
The government has no alternative but to provide this extra subsidy, said Zaid Bakht, research director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).
He said the authorities will be able to bear the additional costs within their overall budget for the current fiscal year.
“Low implementation of the annual development plan and high revenue growth will give the government the space to finance within the budgetary framework,” he said.
The increase in subsidy will not fuel inflation as the government need not borrow from the market for it, Zaid said.
“It will rather contribute to easing inflation by facilitating an improved supply of grains to the market.”
Former BIDS director general Mahabub Hossain said the government is providing subsidy of Tk 15 a kg on rice, which should be cut down.
“Higher the gap between market and OMS prices, higher the chances of pilferage and rent-seeking,” he said, suggesting that the difference between the two prices should be Tk 5 a kg.
Mahabub, executive director of Brac, recommended distributing wheat also through OMS, and speeding up import of food grains.
He said although wheat prices have gone up on the global market, they are still lower than rice prices.
If the government starts selling wheat at OMS outlets, it will be able to give the facility to a larger section of the population, he said.
“Market intervention is required for the next couple of months until the new Boro rice is available after April. But if the government interferes beyond that, a supply glut may hurt farmers,” Mahabub noted.
Dr Quazi Shahabuddin, another former director general of BIDS, said, “If we can have a bumper Boro production, global market prices will not affect our domestic market.”
There is no alternative to widening the safety net programmes and ensuring a corruption-free public distribution system to offset the impact of food inflation on the poor, he added.

 

Via: The Daily Star

Related News

Internet likely to face disruption for 12 hours today

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Internet connectivity in Bangladesh will face partial disruption for 12 hours from this morning because of maintenance of 1st submarine cable, said Bangladesh Submarine Cables PLC (BSCPLC) in a press release. The statement said from 6:01 am to 6:00 pm, the consortium has scheduled maintenance for a land cable fault near ... Read more

Chess Grandmaster Ziaur Rahman passes away

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Bangladesh Grandmaster Ziaur Rahman passed away at a hospital in the city after suffering a heart attack during the 12th round game of the ongoing National Chess Championship at the Chess Federation on Friday. Zia bhai is no more. He breathed his last at around 6:00pm at Ibrahim Cardiac Hospital,’ confirmed ... Read more

Ending GPA-5 era, SSC results to be published with English letter grades

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams will no longer be evaluated under the Grade Point Average 1-5 scale but rather be graded with English letters. A meeting of the National Curriculum Coordination Committee with the Education Minister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury approved the new evaluation framework on Monday (1 July). “There are ... Read more

Over 1.04 crore animals sacrificed on Eid-ul-Adha this year

News Desk : dhakamirror.com A total of 1,04,08,918 animals were sacrificed across the country on the occasion of the holy Eid-ul-Azha this year. As many as 3, 67, 106 more animals were slaughtered this year compared to previous year, the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock said in a press release on Tuesday. This year the ... Read more

9am-5pm office time to resume from Wednesday

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The public offices across Bangladesh are set to go back to old office timing from 9:00am to 5:00pm with Fridays and Saturdays being the weekly holidays as usual from Wednesday. The cabinet in its weekly meeting on June 3 decided restoring the old office timing between 9:00am and 5:00pm on weekdays ... Read more

5 magnitude earthquake jolts parts of Bangladesh

News Desk : dhakamirror.com A magnitude 5 earthquake jolted a large part of the country on Sunday (2 June) afternoon., including Dhaka. The quake struck at 2:44pm from a depth of about 110km, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, and was centred in the Mawlaik area of Myanmar, 441 km southeast of Dhaka. The quake ... Read more

Over 2cr to be fed as daylong Vitamin ‘A’ plus campaign begins

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The National Vitamin A-plus campaign is being conducted with a target to feed the capsules to over 2.22 crore children, aged between six months and 59 months. The campaign started at 8am on Saturday (June 1) and will continue till 4pm. Feeding Vitamin A capsules prevents blindness in children, ensures normal ... Read more

Postponed notice fake, HSC exams on June 30 as per schedule

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and equivalent exams will be held on time as per previous announcement, beginning on 30 June. The routine deferring the exams for a month that is making rounds in social media, is fake, the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Dhaka said on Saturday. A circular ... Read more

3 month-long ban on fishing, tourism in Sundarbans begins

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The forest department has imposed this three-month ban on fishing and tourism in the Sundarbans. Local communities, including fishermen, wood and honey collectors, who depend on the Sundarbans for their livelihoods, are concerned about a three-month ban on all activities in the forest starting Saturday. The restriction applies to visitors, including ... Read more

Appellate Division upholds HC verdict on DU teacher Samia’s demotion

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Appellate Division today (26 May) upheld the judgement of the High Court which declared illegal the demotion order of Dhaka University faculty Samia Rahman on charges of plagiarism. A four-member appellate bench headed by senior judge M Enayetur Rahim of the Appellate Division rejected the appeal of DU as invalid. ... Read more

3.2 million children at risk as Cyclone Remal hits Bangladesh coasts: UNICEF

News Desk : dhakamirror.com As Cyclone Remal hit the coastal areas of Bangladesh, over 8.4 million people, including 3.2 million children, are at high health, nutrition, sanitation, and safety risks, according to UNICEF. ‘Our thoughts go out to the children and their families at this critical moment as they endure the storm’s impact,’ said UNICEF ... Read more

Classes suspended at coastal area schools due to cyclone

News Desk : dhakamirror.com No classes will be held at schools in the coastal areas due to Cyclone Remal, said State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Mohibur Rahman. He said this after a meeting of the inter-ministerial disaster management coordination committee at the Secretariat on Sunday. According to a bulletin of the Met Office, ... Read more

Cyclone Remal forms over Bay, signal 7 at Payra and Mongla

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The deep depression over the east and west central Bay of Bengal intensified into a cyclonic storm “Remal” at around 9:00 pm today and is expected to hit the country’s coasts between 6pm and 11:59pm tomorrow, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD). The Met Office asked the Payra and Mongla ... Read more

Admissions for Class XI start tomorrow

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The first phase of applications for Class XI admission for the 2024–2025 academic year will begin tomorrow, May 26, and run through June 11th. According to the XI class admission circular 2024-25, the online application system is divided into three phases with designated application windows, result announcements, and confirmation periods. Students ... Read more

Exam will not be postponed for Cyclone Remal: NU

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The National University has decided not to postpone the Introduction to Government Policy exam for 4th-year Political Science honours students for the academic year 2022, despite the warning for the approaching Cyclone Remal. The exam is scheduled to be held on Sunday (26 May) at 1:00pm, the same day that the ... Read more

Gold price cut by Tk 1,084 per bhori

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The prices of gold in the country’s local market witnessed a fall on Thursday as the Bangladesh Jewellers’ Association (Bajus) slashed the price of 22-carat gold by Tk 1,084 per bhori (11.664 grammes). The new rate for the precious metal will come into effect on Friday, BAJUS said in a press ... Read more

Don’t pay anyone for visas, or work permits: Italian envoy

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Italian Ambassador to Bangladesh, Antonio Alessandro, advised visa-seekers not to pay anyone for visas, emphasising that the embassy only charges small taxes and processing fees. “Our services are free except for these official fees,” he said today (21 May) following a meeting with Shofiqur Rahman Choudhury, the State Minister for Expatriates’ ... Read more

Bangladeshi mountaineer Babar Ali conquers Everest

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Babar Ali from Chattogram has summited Mount Everest and raised the red and green flag on the world’s highest peak. He reached the summit at 8:30am local time (8:45am Bangladesh time) on Sunday, proudly raising the red and green flag of Bangladesh. He began his journey on 1 April, after necessary ... Read more

Price of gold increases by Tk1,178 per bhori

The new rate will be effective from Sunday (19 May) News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Bangladesh Jewellers Association (Bajus) today (18 May) increased the price of gold by Tk1,178 per bhori, followed by a price hike in the local bullion market. According to a Bajus statement, 22-carat gold will now cost Tk1,18,460 per bhori (11.664 ... Read more

9 Bangladeshis named in Forbes “30 Under 30 Asia” list

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Nine Bangladeshis have been named in Forbes “30 Under 30 Asia” list for their contributions across various industries. Forbes announced its prestigious “30 Under 30 Asia” list for the ninth consecutive year yesterday (15 May), showcasing 300 exceptional young individuals under the age of 30 who are making significant strides across ... Read more