The cabinet yesterday directed authorities concerned to take action against companies involved in unauthorised rice trading and hoarding.

“Raids will be conducted after serving notices to the respective businesses,” said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam at a press briefing at the secretariat.

The directives came at a cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in chair.

According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the price of coarse and fine rice has increased by 5.38 percent and 1.59 percent in a week.

“Why is the price of rice high in the peak season? We’ve got some intelligence reports and there were some suggestions. A detailed discussion has taken place,” said Anwarul at the briefing.

The meeting decided to issue directives to conduct raids like it was done in case of illegal hoarding of edible oils, he said.

Companies cannot engage in businesses beyond their declared memorandum of association in other countries, said Anwarul. There is information that some might be engaged in rice trade, breaching the memorandum of association. So, the meeting asked for monitoring and supervising the rice market, he added.

The drives will be conducted by mobile courts and Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection.

An instruction was issued to the commerce minister, the food minister, the commerce secretary, the food secretary and the agriculture secretary to sit for a meeting on conducting surveys and find out reasons for price hike of rice and going for drives afterwards. Drives will begin two to three days after market monitoring is done.

Replying to a question, the cabinet secretary said the inaugural ceremony of the Padma Bridge will be replicated in all the districts.

The cabinet yesterday okayed the draft of Bangla and English versions of Regional Trade Agreement (RTA) Policy, 2022. The policy is designed to protect and expand the country’s export markets.

“To overcome the challenges of graduation from LDC, we’ve taken steps to go for regional trade agreements by protecting and expanding our export markets as well as ensuring duty-free access,” he said.

The cabinet also approved the proposal for providing the transit facilities to Nepal under the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal-Motor Vehicle Agreement (BBIN-MVA) by canceling its earlier decision on the Operating Modalities for the Carriage of Transit Cargo between Nepal and Bangladesh.

“We had inked a deal on transit with India. We somehow did not notice at that time that we too needed to have transit to enter into India,” he said, adding that the cabinet has approved BBIN for transit to the countries.

The meeting approved the draft of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation Act, 2022, said the cabinet secretary.

The proposed law will particularly promote women entrepreneurs as the existing law had not focused on women properly.

The cabinet also approved in principle the draft of International Mother Language Institute (Amendment) Act, 2022, aiming to form a language research trust under the institute.

Scholarship and fellowship will be given from the permanent fund of the trust for language research and development, said Anwarul, adding that its name would be “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Language Research Trust”.

The meeting endorsed the ratification proposal for an agreement to be signed between Bangladesh and Oman on the mutual visa exemption for the holders of diplomatic, official, special or service passports.

The Daily Star