The government will soon make licence mandatory for foodstuff business and impose restriction on hoarding against the backdrop of its failure to control price hike of essentials.
The Ministry of Food and Disaster Management yesterday decided to revive the East Bengal (Foodstuff) Price Control and Anti-Hoarding Ordinance, 1953 that was not in force for the last two decades.
On 14 October 1991, the then BNP government had stalled application the ordinance through an order.
Earlier, traders had to take licence and could hoard limited amount of rice, wheat, onion, lentil, edible oil, sugar, baby food and powdered milk only for a certain period.
The ministry will also bring some amendments to the ordinance to make it applicable and effective in checking price hike of commodities.
“We’re going to issue a statutory regulatory order (SRO) soon to restore the ordinance to make licence mandatory and limit hoarding,” Food and Disaster Management Minister Md Abdur Razzaque told reporters after a meeting at his secretariat office yesterday.
He said a proposal seeking amendment to the ordinance will be placed before the cabinet for approval.
“The price of rice continues rising in the market and the traders blame each other for the hike,” he said.
“But I don’t want to say a syndicate is behind this, as traders always try to make profit in their own way,” Razzaque said, adding, there will be penalty if anyone is found violating the law.
According to a draft prepared by the ministry, an importer can hoard highest 20,000 tonnes of rice/paddy for 30 days, a wholesaler can hoard 1,000 tonnes for 30 days, and a retailer can hoard 20 tonnes for 15 days.
The traders will be able to hoard highest 200 tonnes of onion for 30 days during import stage, 20 tonnes for 15 days during wholesale stage and 5 tonnes for 10 days during retail stage. They can hoard 10,000 tonnes of lentil for 30 days, 200 tonnes for 30 days and 10 tonnes for 20 days during the three stages respectively, says the draft.
The minister said everything is in the final stage now.
The government, as part of its move to keep rice market stable, asked millers to supply sufficient amount of rice in the market, imported huge quantity of food grains and ran open market sale (OMS) of rice throughout the year.
It also sold rice through fare price card to check price hike of the food item.
But all went futile, as the price of rice is shooting up.