Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said on Tuesday that rice prices should not go up at the moment as there is no dearth of the key staple in the country.
Intelligence agencies have been working to break the syndicate in the rice market, yet a quarter is still active to manipulate the prices, he said at a dialogue organised by Bangladesh Secretariat Reporters' Forum.
"Those who have been importing rice are under scanner. The government has the record of the amount of imported rice," he said.
Although there is no such rice variety called 'miniket', the traders are selling it, the minister said, warning that there will be a law to punish these traders.
He also announced that flour will be sold in packets from 1 October in the open market to check black marketing. The flour packaging is under process and the price is a bit higher, he added.
The open market sale (OMS) programme will continue round the year to control the market, said the minister. More rice and wheat are being imported for OMS and safety net programme 'Kabikha'.
Miniket rice will be no more in the market
The Directorate of National Consumers' Right Protection has decided to restrict 'miniket' rice variety while the businesses opposed the decision saying it will have a negative impact on the market.
The opinions came at a views exchange meeting on Tuesday organised by the directorate.
Director General of National Consumers' Right Protection Directorate AHM Shafiquzzaman and leaders of packaged Miniket traders said this.
Both the manufacturers of various commodities and representatives of the supershops participated in the meeting on the price of packaged essential commodities like rice, lentil, wheat flour, all purpose flour, sugar, salt etc.
In the meeting Pran-RFL Senior Manager Niaz Morshed said that the allegation of polishing coarse rice to convert it into Miniket variety is not true. There is no such machine to polish rice and make it Miniket.
"Miniket is an old brand in the market. If it is restricted now, there will be a negative impact," he said.
Responding to his observation, Shafiquzzaman said that rice is usually named as per their paddy variety. There is no paddy variety called Miniket.
"Then where does this rice come from?" he asked.
Referring to another allegation of increasing price of the packaged essential commodities in connivance with the companies, Mahdi Faisal of Shwapna Supershop said that there is no scope to do so.
"We are not involved in such activities. We want relief from this allegation as it is hampering our business," he said.
City Group Director (Corporate and Regulatory Affairs) Biswajit Saha said that neither the producer nor the consumers raise the price of these packaged essential commodities. Rather the price is fixed by the government itself (trade and tariff commission). It is the government which is responsible for the price hike, he added.